Should Narendra Modi have been more restrained in his I-Day speech?

Gujarat CM and BJP`s poll panel chief, Narendra Modi is a man on mission, with a firm eye on the 2014 General Elections.

Zee Media Bureau/Manisha Singh

New Delhi: Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP`s poll panel chief, Narendra Modi is a man on mission, with a firm eye on the 2014 General Elections. He is also oozing a lot of confidence. And why not? With reports becoming stronger by the day that he may sooner or later be declared the Prime Ministerial candidate of his party, notwithstanding objections by LK Advani and company, Modi feels that his time has come.

Also, like anybody else he has gauged the mood of the nation, which one can safely say is anti-Congress at the moment. With scams, corruption, price rise, rising inflation and sagging economic growth, the cup of woes of the UPA-2 government is more than full. No wonder, Modi has been hitting the Congress where it hurts. In speeches after speeches and rallies after rallies, he has been taking on the government and exhorting the people to rid the country of the Congress party.

Be it any platform, the Gujarat CM has grabbed at the opportunity to list out the failings of almost ten years of UPA rule. Some would say and rightly so that it is the role of the Opposition to keep the ruling party on toes. However, there are others who would say that even though you may politically benefit from it, there are times when one should restrain from going all out.

Probably, the Independence Day speech by Modi on Thursday was one such occasion. After unfurling the Tricolour at Lalan College in Bhuj, he reviewed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s speech from the parapet of the Red Fort and described it as disappointing. Infact he said that the whole country was disappointed with the PM`s speech and that there was no message in it.

"I am wondering that despite your name being included among those people who have unfurled the Tricolour on the maximum occasions, you are saying the same things which were said by Pandit Nehru in his first address to our nation," he said.

If one could read between the lines then Modi in his statement not only showed Manmohan Singh as a weak PM but also in one stroke sent out a message to the people that the Congress is to be blamed for all the ills faced by this country since independence.

The Gujarat CM has a point. However, the question is whether the occasion of August 15 ought to be set aside for sending out a positive message to the nation. Modi has been time and again taking on the PM and the Congress and both do have a lot to answer to the people of this country, but then should today have been the day where the BJP`s poll panel chief could have behaved in a more statesman like manner and outlined his agenda for better governance in this country?

Modi had already challenged the PM a day earlier and had said that if compared, his speech would be better than Manmohan Singh`s and that the on "Independence Day, focus would not only be on the address at Lal Qila but also the one at Lalan College in Bhuj.

Predictably, the Congress hit back at Modi for his attack on the PM and said that he was indulging in "petty politics". Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said something which ironically was reiterated by Modi`s own party patriarch, LK Advani. Both said that I-Day was a day when `political differences should be forgotten` and when one should not `criticise one another`.

Anyway, what`s done is done. Modi supporters may believe that this was a smart move by him – to position himself directly against Manmohan Singh and challenge him for a US presidential like debate, which may not happen in India for a long time to come but there will also be Gujarat CM`s critics who may say that he is going overboard and also embarrassing his party in the process. How the BJP`s poll panel chief will do a balancing act between the two seems to be one his biggest challenges in the run up to the 2014 General Elections.

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