Secularism means ‘India first’, says Narendra Modi

Gujarat CM addresses crowd in New Jersey, Chicago.

Bureau Report

WASHINGTON, DC: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has said his idea of secularism is “India first”, and claimed people forgive “mistakes” of governments if they are served “selflessly”.

“My definition of secularism is simple, India first. Whatever we do, it must be for India. We must never let India, her honor, the dreams of the people be adversely affected. India first it must be,” Modi said while addressing a community outreach program organized by the Overseas Friends of BJP in New Jersey and Chicago, via video conference, reported the Business Standard.

Stressing on the need to rise above the limited focus on winning elections, Modi said: “Winning or losing elections must never be our aim. When we get a mandate of five years, we must work on that and serve the people selflessly. If we do that, then the people will forgive our mistakes as well.”

The chief minister’s address to a US community comes shortly after a snub he received from the Wharton India Economic Forum, which cancelled Modi’s keynote address to the prestigious annual event because of opposition from a section of professors and students of the University of Pennsylvania.

Modi, who often draws flak from human rights activists over the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat that claimed about 1,200 lives, did not refer to the controversial issue during the address. He also did not touch the issue of him being denied a US visa on the issue of human rights violations and the controversial issue of Wharton India Economic Forum.

During his speech, Modi said that for the past three decades, a question had come as to who would lead the world in the 21st century. “The 19th century was Europe’s century. We were colonized back then, so we never benefited from the industrial revolution. We had the capabilities, but the nation was under colonial rule, so that opportunity went out of our hands. Then, in the 20th century, the US increased its influence but we were fighting for freedom under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership,” he said in his hour-long speech, reported the Standard.

“It was at the turn of the last century that it was agreed the coming century will be Asia’s. Under Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s leadership, there was an atmosphere all around the world that India will do something. When Vajpayeeji did the nuclear tests, the faith of Indians, both in India and across the world, was further renewed,” he claimed.

He opined Gujarat had created a new ray of hope in this atmosphere of darkness and pointed out development was the solution to all problems. “Despite two recessions that affected many nations including the US, Gujarat adopted various initiatives and did not stop the development journey,” Modi said, stressing on the need of creating a manufacturing sector that is both cheap and efficient.

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