In Chennai, Narendra Modi pitches for 'cyclone of change'

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Narendra Modi on the stage with Cho Ramaswamy at Madras University

Chennai: Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate, was in Chennai today to deliver the Nani Palkhivala memorial lecture on 'India and the world'. The city, from the airport to the venue - the Tamil Nadu University - was dressed up in saffron, extending a 'hearty welcome to the next Prime Minister of India'.

Political commentator Cho Ramaswamy set the stage declaring that Mr Modi's next address would be 7, Race Course Road and economist Arun Shourie endorsed it. While Mr Ramaswamy called Mr Modi a godsend, Mr Shourie said in the next election, the Gujarat Chief Minister was going to be 'The Issue'.

Earlier, Mr Modi, shortly after arriving in Chennai, said cyclone Phailin failed to make an impact because of the 'cyclone of change' in India. "Cyclone Phailin could not do anything because there is a cyclone of change in India and that doesn't let any other cyclone do any damage," he said.

Mr Modi, knowing that Tamil Nadu and Chennai were not going to offer any immediate possibility of political alliances, used the stage to give his view of India on the world stage.

Mr Modi reached out to the Indian diaspora worldwide, quite a huge and influential group, suggesting that the country needs to make good use of them, involve them and also stand by them. In the same breath, he added that India has to take better care of them. He cited the example of Tamils in Sri Lanka to elaborate his point, which left many wondering whether he was suggesting that Sri Lankan Tamils were Indians or of Indian origin.

Mr Modi also spoke about a greater role for the states in India's foreign policy, something Tamil Nadu has been demanding. Suggesting a unique model, he said that every state should be made responsible for diplomatic relations with one country, and that, he said, would ensure better relations.

"That way we will have at least 34 friends in the world and no one will be able to browbeat us,'' he said.

The political question at the end of the day was whether Mr Ramaswamy's endorsement of Mr Modi had the nod of his close associate Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who herself reportedly nurses prime ministerial ambitions.


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