Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi lived up to his image as a leader of the masses as he breezed through the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2012 in Jaipur on January 8 and 9, 2012.
He towered over other chief ministers with a display of synoptic firepower during business sessions but reverted to his usual friendly self when the lensmen packed their cameras.
It was no exaggeration that Mr Modi stole the thunder at PBD 2012.
He addressed two sessions, the first of which was with Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi and Chief Ministers of Rajasthan, Kerala and Jharkhand, respectively Ashok Gehlot, Oommen Chandy, Arjun Munda.
He campaigned for Gujarat as an ‘investor-friendly State,’ saying that it had recorded “remarkable achievements with double digit GDP growth.
“We have a ‘think big’ approach that enables us to provide incentives and facilities for businesses and investors,” he said
He accused the federal government of giving step motherly treatment to Gujarat since he belonged to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which opposes the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance.
However, he proved that he was a politician with tact, when he praised Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at another session.
“Dr Singh has an excellent record in fiscal management with experience in World Bank and other institutions. As such, I have always wanted to learn from him the nuances of governance,” he said.
He said India should be featured overseas as a country of diverse political ideologies but with individual States that favoured overseas investments.
He said people overseas should consider the three ‘S’ that India offered, namely, Scale, Speed and Skills.’
He parried questions on the accusation that his government was unjust in dealing with the riots in 2002 and his somewhat frosty relationship with his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar.
Repeated requests for comment on the speculation that Mr Modi would be the next Prime Minister if the BJP won in the 2014 elections, drew flak from Mr Ravi, who said that PBD should focus on promoting India as the leader of the 21st Century, rather than delving on political issues.
Later, speaking Indian Newslink, Mr Modi expressed his desire to visit New Zealand, ‘a beautiful land of beautiful people.’
“I wish all New Zealanders a Happy and Prosperous New Year. I constantly hear of the successful stories of the Gujarati community in New Zealand. I hope that businesses would consider investing more in their home state.
“I also hope to visit New Zealand sometime soon,” he said.