Gandhinagar/New Jersey: Narendra Modi did not need the visa that he has been denied to address NRIs today in 18 US cities. He just linked up again through video conference to hardsell Brand Modi and the Gujarat growth story at the expense of the Congress-led UPA, which he slammed for being a "weak government."
In a light kurta against a stark saffron background, Mr Modi said, "If you compare the last 12 years with the earlier 40 years, you will realise that we have taken development (in Gujarat) to a new high." 12 years because Mr Modi has been Gujarat Chief Minister that long; his party, the BJP, has ruled the state for 15 straight years.
Mr Modi said he did not deny that there had been development in Gujarat before he took over, but then painstakingly explained why he believed that the growth story that he had scripted was better. The Gujarat Chief Minister said his development had been "inclusive and exhaustive."
The occasion was a celebration of Gujarat Day organised by the Indian community in the US, but Mr Modi turned it into yet another political speech, slamming the UPA for the recent Chinese incursion into Indian territory and on other issues. "This is Gujarat Day. But I am an Indian first, and I am worried because we are heading towards troubled times. All because of a weak government," Mr Modi said. (Read: Highlights of Mr Modi's speech)
He used American symbols to tell his Gujarat story. Mr Modi quoted iconic former US president John F Kennedy in the course of his over-60-minute speech and also said that his government planned to make a "statue of unity" - a likeness of Sardar Vallabhai Patel double the size of the Statue of Liberty.
"I know there are many American leaders sitting there but I chose to spoke in Hindi. I hope you will convey my message to them," he said.
At New Jersey, where 500 people listened to Mr Modi in rapt attention, an audience member, who asked Mr Modi the first question of the session on India's slipping GDP, told NDTV, "Gujarat's growth has included all communities. He (Mr Modi) has said he doesn't work for one particular community."