New Delhi: Ignoring about 100 student protestors outside, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi spent an hour on Wednesday at Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), pitching himself as just the sort of leader India needs.
"I think differently," he declared. To demonstrate, he held up a glass of water. "Some people say this is half full, others say it is half empty. But I say it's full - half with water and half with air."
1,800 students - more girls than boys - were packed into the sports complex at the college. Mr Modi, known for his ability to connect with his audience, was bang on target.
He said on a recent visit to Taiwan, India was referred to as a country of snake-charmers.He said his response was, "We are a nation of mouse charmers. Every young person in India uses a mouse on the computer." Applause from delighted students.
At one point, he paused. "Should I continue?" he asked, theatrically.
While his party is debating whether he will be its candidate for prime minister for the national elections next year, Mr Modi's speech paraded his qualifications.
India is caught between good and bad governance, he said. He offered the former- " pro-people good governance" in Gujarat; the latter, in other parts of the country has created "a sense of despair and cynicism." Less astute politicians see young people as "new-age voters." He recognizes them as "a new-age power."
Outside, many of those younger voters were hit by water canons and batons by the riot police as they demonstrated against Mr Modi's campus stop. Most of them were affiliated to student wings of the Left. Dressed in black with masks, they said Mr Modi needs to be held accountable for the riots in 2002, in which 1200 people were killed in Gujarat, most of them Muslims.