How Modi conquered by raising the level of the game | Firstpost In the eyes of many people, Narendra Modi is a man with a past. At the Shri Ram College of Commerce, the place Modi chose for his first choreographed appearance on the national stage in Delhi, we saw a man with the future in mind: His own future and the future of the nation. Both looked good in the hands of Indiaâ€™s most-talked-about leader who has mastered the art of marketing himself very well â€“ as Rahul Gandhi noted to his disadvantage during the Gujarat elections. The response of his audience â€“ notwithstanding the protesters outside the venue who were obsessed only with his past â€“ showed that for the youth of India, the future is more important than the past. They want to move on. Modi has offered himself for that role. For a nation sinking in despondency over crime, corruption, caste and communal conflict, Modi painted a broad-brush vision with development as the focus, not vote-bank politics. The contrast with all the ongoing hate-talk of the Togadias, Owaisis and caste-mullahs could not have been starker. Modiâ€™s appeal was to the aspiring classes, those who have no patience with conflicts of identity, non-governance, non-performance and excuses for failure. This was encapsulated in his core message of hope and youth achievement: â€œHum kisise se kam nahin hain.â€ Modi also enunciated his vision for government. â€œGovernmentâ€, he said, â€œhad no business to be in business.â€ This contrasts sharply with the Congress-fed belief in a mai-baap Sarkar. So what is the business of government? Modiâ€™s answer: â€œMinimum government, maximum governance.â€ As an example, he offered the case of how he built Indiaâ€™s largest convention centre in Gandhinagar, the state capital in 152 days. He also reminded Delhi-ites that the coaches of the Delhi Metro were built in Gujarat, by an entrepreneur he did not particularly vibe well with, and whose factory he was happy to inaugurate nevertheless. His underlying suggestion to his audience was: the state works, irrespective of my likes and dislikes. His speech, which was peppered with anecdotes and examples of what he has achieved in Gujarat, might have seemed like repeated pats on his own back, but he packaged it differently: what Gujarat could achieve by itself, if translated to the national level by an able leader, would help India take its appointed place in the global league. He managed to make talk about Gujaratâ€™s farmers, his achievements in animal husbandry and milk production interesting and relevant to a student audience in Delhi that could not be further removed from such a constituency. For in every Gujarat achievement he embedded a promise for Indiaâ€™s tomorrow. When he talked about his biennial Vibrant Gujarat summits, he talked not about the investments coming to Gujarat, but the presence of people representing 20 percent of GDP in Gandhinagar. When he talked of animal husbandry, he said efforts to extend veterinary services had resulted in the near eradication of 120 animal diseases. Implicit in this achievement in animal health is the promise: if I can do this for animals, what can I not do for the nationâ€™s health? He also subtly played on the emotional card linking Gujarat to India: that the whole of India is fed by his stateâ€™s milk, and, more importantly, Gujarat ka namak. The implicit meaning of a nation partaking of Gujaratâ€™s namak builds on the Indianâ€™s emotional belief â€“ something Bollywood never tires of airing â€“ that if you have tasted someoneâ€™s salt, you are bonded together like blood brothers. His anecdotes also spoke of his future connect. He talked of a trip to Taiwan before he became CM of Gujarat, where one of the people he met asked him if India still had snake-charmers. His reply: we have become mouse charmers. The mouse he was referring to was the computer mouse. And while he was on the subject of computers, he made a political point. He said that the computer revolution, widely claimed by Congress to be Rajiv Gandhiâ€™s brainchild, was the achievement of Indiaâ€™s youth, and not any of its politicians. Given the current anti-politician mood of Indian youth, who are all out on the streets, the subtler point was this: Modi was positioning himself as an outsider to Delhi politics who can set things right. In every other sentence he uttered, he brought in youth and youth power. He said while other parties were talking of the new age voter, he would like to talk of their new age power. He did not fail to bring in Swami Vivekananda in the context of youth power. Vivekananda is Modiâ€™s passport both to secular politics and a Hindu icon who transcends geography. But in everything he said, Modiâ€™s vision was about Indiaâ€™s place in the world â€“ an aspiration every student could have identified with. Modi is one of the first political leaders to realise that Indiaâ€™s urban youth have sky-high aspirations, global dreams, and for this the world has to be their stage. He pandered to their dreams. While the Congress is bogged down with marketing poverty and delivering subsidies to the poor (â€œAapka paise, Aapka Haathâ€), Modiâ€™s appeal was to a different audience, an audience that does not want charity and official benevolence, but an enabling environment for conquering the world of success. To prove that his development model was not just about the rich, he managed to weave in a story about a Dalit who met Bill Clinton in Rajasthan during the latterâ€™s visit. The Dalit apparently impressed the Clintons with the progress made in India. But this was also a subliminal memo that his development model was also about the most backward of Indians. The audience vibed well when Modi talked about competing with China based on skill, scale and speed. His final point was simple: the world wonâ€™t wait for us if we donâ€™t change. And Modi offered himself as the change Indiaâ€™s youth, especially urban youth, wanted to see. If one were to contrast Modiâ€™s performance with that of Rahul Gandhiâ€™s at the Congress meet last month, it is a no-contest. Modiâ€™s performance establishes him as the potential mascot of urban India, young India â€“ the India that wants to leave its past of regrets and nonâ€”performance behind. Modi conquered his audience.