Asian Age Correspondent
New Delhi, 9 April 2013. After the grand show at Ahmedabad’s Sardar Patel Stadium, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who is emerging as the BJP’s face for the 2014 general election, continued his moves to inch closer to Delhi.
On Monday he addressed the Ficci Ladies Organisation in the national capital, and then moved on to talk about governance in a television show. His Ficci address was aired live by nearly 40 TV channels across the country. On Tuesday, Mr Modi is expected to reach Kolkata and take on Trinamul Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee over development issues.
West Bengal, incidentally, had lost out to Gujarat when Tata Motors shifted out its Nano factory from Singur. In Kolkata, the Gujarat CM is due to address a special session on “Modi’s Vision of a Vibrant Growth Model for India”.
Addressing the Ficci ladies in New Delhi on Monday, Mr Modi focused on women’s entrepreneurship, empowerment and equality. At the same time he took potshots at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, and virtually ridiculing his famous “Kalavati” role model, the CM talked about Gujarat’s own “Jasubehn” and her “famous pizzas”.
Mr Modi said Jasubehn “exemplified” how successful women entrepreneurs could be “if they were given the right opportunity, which was available in Gujarat”.
Mr Modi said “even today women are not part of the economic decision-making process”, and added that “we have to change this, and bring them into decision-making”. Mr Modi added: “Entrepreneurship is inbuilt in women, and if an opportunity is given for this to flourish, it gives results.” He claimed things were now “changing… with more and more men seeking working wives”.
Then came the dig at Rahul Gandhi. “Before our friends from the media go there to find out if Jasubehn is like Kalavati, I would like to tell them she died five years ago. Her pizzas, however, still have a big market,” Mr Modi said amid laughter. And then his sting for Gujarat’s woman governor Kamla Beniwal.
He said the Gujarat Assembly had passed a bill reserving 50 per cent seats for women in local bodies in urban and rural areas, but it had still not got her assent. “It is my misfortune that despite being a woman she has not given her assent,” he said.
And then he took on the Congress. “My Congress friends had created so many potholes that till now I have been filling them. I have brought it to a level playing field now. Imagine how big those potholes were. Now the effort will be to build an impressive, grand Gujarat.”
Later, responding to Mr Modi’s swipe, AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, alluding to the 2002 riots in Gujarat, said: “Someone will have to surely fill up the deep chasm he has created.”
Mr Modi strongly criticised female foeticide and pointed to imbalances in the sex ratio due to this. He stressed the need to show respect to women, and claimed he granted property rights to women in his state and also given them stamp duty relief.
Mr Modi, who is likely to play a key role in the general election, sent a clear signal to the Ficci audience. “No human being is complete. In everybody there are some shortcomings. I have all the shortcomings of an ordinary man, but with the values I received, I have been able to leave some of them behind. I have not reached the height where I can evaluate myself. That is for you all to do.”
From Ficci he went to address the audience at a TV show “Think India”, where he spoke on issues ranging from good governance to policy matters.