New Delhi: Enthusiastic people cheered, applauded and whistled as Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his over an hour-long maiden Independence Day speech here on Friday.
As soon as Modi`s cavalcade reached Red Fort, the atmosphere turned electric. When he got down and waved to the cheering crowd, many of them stood on their chair to get a glimpse of the leader.
On his left were over 10,000 people who had been allowed to witness the address live for the first time and on Modi`s right and in the front were the thousands of school children, mainly from government schools between the ages of 10 to 16 years.
And the response was equally enthusiastic from all quarters, irrespective of age and social background.
When Modi joked, they laughed and when he talked about improving the country`s infrastructure, they applauded.
All through his speech, the sounds of cheering, hooting, clapping and whistling reverberated in the air.
"This is the first time that I have come to the Red Fort to listen to the PM and all because I admire Modi and his ideas," Kulraj Singh, a 32-year-old resident of nearby Darya Ganj told IANS.
Aarti Upadhyay, 40, a homemaker from east Delhi`s Geeta Colony, who too had for the first time heard a speech live by a prime minister, said: "It was my dream to see Modiji unfurl the tricolour. I know he will take the country in the right direction. His speech was perfect."
The crowd had started pouring-in at the sprawling lawns in front of the 17th century Red Fort even before the crack of dawn, mainly because of the Delhi Metro that had commenced its services at 4.30 am on Friday to facilitate the movement of people.
The Delhi Metro issued free travel coupons to passengers travelling to Red Fort and getting off at Chandni Chowk or Kashmere Gate stations. As many as 350 DTC buses ferried people to the venue free of cost between 6 am and 10 am.
Such was the enthusiasm, that groups of youngsters could be seen chanting `Vande Mataram` and `Bharat Mata ki Jai` a kilometre away as they walked towards the ground.
It was good to see that some of the suggestions Modi gave in his speech - particularly about keeping cities clean - was adhered to by the school children.
The thousands of school children, who were given packed lunches and snacks, used dustbins to dispose off the empty bottles, packets of food and chips. Every year, they used to throw them on the ground.
This time, a huge dustbin was kept in one corner of the ground where the children were savouring their refreshments while makeshift dustbins in the form of empty cardboard boxes were also placed all over.
However, the chairs for media persons were covered in thick layers of dust while some even had paint and grease marks.