Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Sunday, 19 January 2014, came out with his vision for a new India ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, pledging to project the country as a brand worldwide if a BJP government was voted to power. The key elements of the Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate’s programme are urbanisation, infrastructure, education and healthcare, apart from cracking down on scourges such as inflation and black money. Modi said he wanted to reach out to every level of society to ensure that the benefits of economic change didn’t just go to the advantaged. His wish list includes Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management and All India Institutes of Medical Science in every state, 100 new smart cities and bullet trains to all four corners of the country. He said inflation – one of BJP’s main election planks besides corruption and “mis-governance” by the UPA government – was the country’s biggest predicament and said steps needed to be taken to contain it. The answer lay in farm data that was much more current than it is now and a fund that could be used to protect the vulnerable. Modi also floated the idea of a price stabilisation fund to ensure that nobody went hungry.
He spoke of the need to focus on Brand India, referring to five Ts in this connection-tradition, talent, tourism, technology and trade. He also pledged a mix of social welfare schemes that would bring India on a par with developed economies, urging people to vote for him.
Other priorities in Modi’s programme include development of infrastructure such as roads, ports and airports, reviving power plants that are shut, creating jobs, skill development, setting up agro infrastructure gas grids, deploying optical fibre networks, pushing the river interlinking project and establishing special courts to punish black marketing. In the 75-minute speech, Modi said the country has to treat urbanisation as an “opportunity”, not as a “challenge”, something India hasn’t done. A BJP government under him will build 100 new cities to be developed as smart cities, twin cities and satellite cities, he said. “If the railways is modernised, we can give impetus to progress. By the time the country celebrates the diamond jubilee of independence (2022), we should have bullet trains going in four directions. The world will start seeing us with a new vision,” he said.
Modi also touched on senior BJP leader LK Advani’s pet theme of getting black money stashed overseas back to the country, saying that a task force will be set up to ensure that this is achieved. Modi also spoke of the need to uphold what he regarded as India’s traditions, likening it to a rainbow with seven shades— family values, agriculture and rural India, empowerment of women, environment, youth, democracy and knowledge.