A beginning of hope and responsibility, says Modi

New Delhi


An era of responsibility and hope has begun, said PM-designate Narendra Modi who became emotional while addressing the party's newly-elected MPs after being unanimously elected leader of the BJP parliamentary party Tuesday, a formality that set in motion a constitutional process that will culminate in his forming a new Indian government next week.

Addressing the party MPs and other leaders in the Central Hall of parliament, which he visited for the first time and where he went down on his knees to touch his forehead to the steps leading to it in reverence to the 'temple of democracy', Modi said the majority given to the BJP in the Lok Sabha was "a vote for hope and faith" and said his rise from humble origins was a tribute to the greatness of Indian democracy.

"A government should be one that works for the poor and this is why the new government is committed to the poor of the country and dedicated to the youth of the country as well as our mothers and daughters," said Modi, adding: "The celebrations, excitement will go on but the era of responsibility has begun."

Modi's name was proposed by party elder L.K. Advani and seconded by other senior leaders including Murli Manohar Joshi, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.

There was excitement in the air in the Central Hall as newly-elected BJP MPs arrived early and greeted each other with hugs and embraces. As soon as Modi arrived, he was thronged by MPs wishing to congratulate him. Modi accepted their wishes with folded hands and bowed to touch Advani's feet in traditional Indian style of respect for an elder.

As Modi spoke, he was repeatedly cheered with thumping of desks. There were moist eyes with Advani also admitting that he was overwhelmed by the occasion. The BJP is returning to power after ten long years.

The BJP parliamentary party meeting was followed by that of the party-led National Democratic Alliance in which several of the 29 allies felicitated Modi.

Modi later met President Pranab Mukherjee and staked claim to forming the government.

The Modi-led BJP won a staggering 282 seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha, becoming the first non-Congress party since Independence to get a majority on its own. The Congress fell to an embarrassing tally of 44 seats, its lowest ever.

In his speech, Modi said the full majority accorded to the party means “hope and trust”.

“This is beginning of hope,” he said.

Modi remembered former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is ailing, the freedom fighters and leaders who had drafted the constitution.

Referring to his humble origins, Modi said it was due to democracy in the country that he was "in the Central Hall today".

Modi said he never felt dejected. “Only optimistic people can enthuse others. We have to leave pessimism.”

He said the BJP workers will have to dedicate themselves to the service of the 1.25 billion people of the country.

“Responsibility given by the organization has to be performed with a sense of purity,” Modi said and added that he had done the same when he was declared prime ministerial candidate of the party in September last year.

Calling himself a disciplined soldier and vowing to work for the "poorest of the poor", Modi said he would present his government's report card in 2019, exactly five years from now.

Modi stressed that he should not be seen above the BJP and credited his party's stunning electoral victory to its organizational strength. Modi became emotional when he responded to Advani's remarks that he had done a favour by leading the BJP in the election, a move that Advani had initially opposed.

"Please don't use the word 'kripa' (favour)," Modi said. "A son doesn't do a favour to his mother. A son works with dedication. I treat the BJP as my mother just as India is my mother."

"The party has done me a favour by giving me an opportunity to serve."

Modi said it would be for the first time that the government would be formed under the leadership of a person who was born in Independent India.

“We did not get the chance to die for the country but people have given us a chance to live for the country. Every second and each part of the body should be used in the service of the country,” Modi said.

Modi said he accepted the responsibility given to him. “You will never get an opportunity to look down on what my government will do."

BJP president Rajnath Singh described the moment as historic, and said this heralded an era in Indian politics that was dominated by the BJP, with all other parties pushed to a distant second as "others".

"This is an unprecedented, historic moment. Although the Janata Party secured a majority in 1977 and ousted the Congress, it was a conglomeration of various parties. The BJP is the first (non-Congress) party which has achieved this feat on its own," Singh said adding that it had made inroads in states such as Kerala and West Bengal where it had been a non-entity in the past.

Singh said he was "happy and thrilled" and described the day as the fruition of party ideologue Deendayal Upadhyaya's dream of a "strong, self-dependent, and free" India.

Following the meeting of the NDA, Modi was elected leader of the alliance in the Lok Sabha. - IANS