Bhartiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, seems to have turned Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's 'chaiwallah' jibe into an opportunity. On Wednesday, Modi launched a mega national video campaign namely, 'chai pe charcha' (discussions over tea) from Ahmedabad that covered 1,000 tea stalls across 300 cities nationally.
As part of the innovative campaign, Modi likened a tea stall with that of a "footpath Parliament" and looked to connect and interact with voters. As many as 1,500 people gathered at a tea stall on SG Highway in Ahmedabad, where Modi answered direct questions from various parts of the country such as such as Vadodara, Patna, Varanasi, Trivendrum, Lucknow to name a few.
Although, the inaugural event of the campaign had "good governance" as the subject of today's discussion, BJP's PM candidate offered his views on various subjects such as law and order, infrastructure, balanced development of western and eastern parts of the country as well as securities issues, skill development and so on.
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Modi sought to connect with 2 crore people through this mass connect progamme over the period of time.
Before taking the questions from the people directly, Modi recounted his childhood experiences including bad and good events while selling tea.
"In a way, a tea stall is like a footpath Parliament where world issues are discussed while sipping tea. Discussions vary from that of rural issues, family issues to issues about Israel and Mars. I have learnt a lot while selling tea in my childhood. I got an opportunity to meet lot of people. I used carefully listen to people's discussions while selling tea. It has been a special experience of my childhood," Modi said while sipping tea with the common man at one of the tea stalls in Ahmedabad. Incidentally, the tea served at these NaMo stalls was 'free of cost' with party bearing the expanses.
In the run up to the launch of the campaign, Modi's ‘chai pe charcha’ website had already seen hundreds of thousands of visitors posting queries and suggestions. Moreover, looking forward to the success of the campaign, Modi said that he aimed at interacting directly with around 20 million people in near future.
"We want to take forward the suggestions that will come from these 1000 centres. In the coming days, we will go to other tea stalls and discuss on other issues. If I am able to achieve what I am imagining through this programme, then I will be able to connect directly with at least 20 million people across the country. Democracy is a festival which is celebrated especially during elections. It is the responsibility of every political party to listen to the public and explain its stand to the public. In a way, there should be political education among the public," Modi said.
Apparently taking a dig at Congress-led UPA government without naming them, Modi likened bad governance to diabetes which when contracted invites other diseases. "No matter how healthy and strong one's physical body is, but once it contracts diabetes, the outwardly looking healthy body begins contracting various other diseases. A bad governance is also like diabetes which invites other diseases like corruption, erosion of development, people are forced to face various troubles. The programme has been specifically held to listen to issues faced by the common man," he added.
On taxation, Modi said that taxation should not harm the tax givers. Terming Chanakya's taxation as good, he announced that he would introduce incentives for honest taxpayers by amending laws if he came to power. Also, talked about use of technology for nailing the criminals and modernising intelligence system.