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Modi at town hall — PM, motivational speaker, social worker & tech-lover all in one

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Theme of Wednesday’s town hall — Main nahi hum or I to me — bears an echo of BJP’s ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas‘ mantra for an inclusive, people-driven party.

New Delhi: Donning the ‘motivational speaker’ hat and looking to connect with the youth ahead of challenging polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a ‘Self4Society’ town hall interaction Wednesday, that was attended by IT professionals, experts and technocrats from across the country, including some top honchos of the IT sector.

The theme — Main nahi hum or I to me — rings as one that is fairly similar to BJP’s ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas‘ slogan, an attempt to portray itself as an inclusive, people-driven party that believes in taking everyone along.

“Every effort, however big or small, must be valued. Governments may have schemes and budgets but the success of any initiative lies in public involvement,” Modi said.

“I am sure people want to work for others, they want to serve society and bring a positive difference,” he added. “Inclusive growth is the way ahead. It is important to create an India where everyone has equal opportunities.”

Another ‘Mann Ki Baat’?

Sounding uncannily similar to his Mann Ki Baat avatar, the PM talked at length about the amorphous issues such as inner satisfaction, the importance of inspiration as well as contributing to society.

Also read: BJP finds a new way to ‘sell’ Modi — via shopping on NaMo App

However, according to sources in the party, the real purpose of these town halls has been to connect with the youth and the tech world, and further strengthen BJP’s hold over a constituency that the party anyway believes is “naturally drawn to it”. Through the town halls, Modi also looks to send a message that this government supports innovation and backs start-ups.

“It is essential to step out of our comfort zone. There is so much to learn and discover. There are many start-ups in the social sector. More power to youngsters doing such wonderful things,” Modi said.

“In the start-up ecosystem, we are placed third in the world. This is due to the youth of the country,” he added.

Stress on technology

Technology has been an area the PM has consistently talked about and at Wednesday’s town hall too he emphasised on it.

“I am seeing that India’s youngsters are leveraging the power of technology wonderfully. They are using technology not only for themselves but also for the welfare of others. I see this as a wonderful sign,” he said.

Talking about people’s involvement and putting the onus on them for a scheme’s success has been the hallmark of the Modi government’s strategy, reflected most in the Swachh Bharat initiative. Wednesday’s interaction carried a similar thrust.

“Through volunteering efforts, a lot can be done in the agriculture sector. Youngsters must venture out and work for the welfare of farmers,” the PM said.

“On many occasions, what sarkar (government) can’t do, sanskar (values) can do. Let us make cleanliness a part of our value system,” he said.

The town halls have always been a critical interaction point for the PM. It was in the August 2016 edition the PM made a rare and significant reference to cow-protection related vigilantism, expressing anger at self-styled “gau-rakshaks” (cow-protectors) who “run shops in the name of cow protection”.

As the PM interacted with IT professionals across the country through video-conferencing, Wednesday’s town hall also touched upon a range of subjects promoted by the Modi government — from Swachh Bharat to doubling farmers’ income.

Also read: The NaMo App is selling not just Modi’s vision but also Modi himself

Top industry honchos such as Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra group and Sudha Murthy, chairperson of Infosys Foundation, were also present at the interaction. This, party sources say, helps the BJP send out the message that it continues to enjoy the support of the corporate world.

“We have a culture where we like to only criticise business and industry. This is not a line of thought I agree with. We have seen today, in this programme how leading corporates are doing excellent social work, urging their employees to venture out and serve,” Modi said.

Taking a jibe at news content on television, Modi said it spreads “negativity”. “There is a huge India outside the TV screen,” he said.

The PM decided to end his more than an hour-long interaction on an oblique but unmissable political note. “The question in my head is why India hasn’t progressed in all these years, but there is no question that it now will,” he said.

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