Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said on Sunday that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh needed to fight poverty, illiteracy and superstition, not each other.
He was addressing a meeting of former servicemen in Rewari, in the Indian state of Haryana. Modi’s speech stands out because of the relatively low level of belligerence towards Pakistan and China – he offered advice to them rather than typically waving the stick at them.
There were high hopes when a civilian government came to power in Pakistan, he said. “I want to tell my friends in Pakistan that all these bombs and landmines have not done you any good. For 10 years, work towards driving terrorism out of your country, not making your land a home for terror. It will help the youth and the poor,” the Gujarat chief minister said.
This was his first public address since he was declared the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in the upcoming general elections scheduled for spring next year.
Modi is a controversial political figure for his alleged Hindu bias during the communal violence in Gujarat in 2002. An Ahmedabad court gave a clean bill to Modi over the Gulbarg Society massacre and Godhra riots case. On April 10, 2012, the court announced that the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) did not find any proof that could implicate him and 61 others accused in the case.
Meanwhile, on domestic terrorism, he said the problem originated because of the current dispensation in New Delhi. “Compared to World War I and World War II, today there are more people in the world who are victims of proxy wars, which is terrorism. We need to address these proxy wars.”
Modi, who seemed to have started his political campaign, claimed that a change in government at the Centre would contribute to making India safer and more secure.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2013.