Modi in London: PM woos Indian diaspora, showcases govt's achievements

PM Narendra Modi with his British counterpart Theresa May at Francis Crick Institute in Londom. (Photo: PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday interacted with the Indian diaspora in London but the target audience was primetime television viewers back home. The effort was to showcase the achievements of his four-year government to the electorate, particularly of poll-bound Karnataka.

With barely a year to go for the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the PM sought to reply to some of the criticisms his government has faced in recent times.  Such as unemployment, farmer incomes, demonetisation and the ongoing anger over increases in rape.

On that final one, protests are taking place in London as well. Modi spoke about his “pain” at these, without directly referring to either the Kathua or Unnao tragedies. PM says not to politicise rapes.

With the Karnataka poll scheduled on May 12, Modi spoke about it as well. To a question, Modi extolled the contribution of 12th century Lingayat philosopher-saint Basaveshwara. Support of that community is crucial for his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the poll, and in the morning, the PM had paid his tributes at the statue of Basaveshwara on the banks of the Thames river.

At London’s Westminster Hall, the event titled ‘Bharat ki baat sabke saath’ the PM engaged with an audience for nearly two hours. Displaying panache at striking a connect with people about life as a tea-seller on a railway platform from a backward community. With the requisite steel in his voice in speaking of lessons taught to Pakistan in the ‘surgical strike’ of September 2016.

The PM conceded he isn’t perfect and has committed mistakes. However, he didn’t mention his ‘note ban’ decision in the same breath. He did speak about how the Argentine president, who he said was a close friend, told his wife Modi won’t survive the demonetisation decision.

Speaking frequently in the third person about himself, Modi said four years of his government has made people of India “impatient”. Just as Mahatma Gandhi made the fight for independence a mass movement, he had succeeded, he said, in making vikas (development) a mass movement.

The PM insisted his government’s performance be compared with United Progressive Alliance 2 (2009-14), and that his government had performed better on all parameters. The crucial difference, he said, was that his government has provided corruption-free governance. 

He talked about the aim of the ‘Modi model of governance,' to create an eco-system to empower people. Modi said his objective is to provide bachchon ko padhai, yuva ko kamai and buzurgon ko dawai (affordable education to children, income to youths and affordable medicines to the elderly).