After corporates and youth, it was the turn of woman power that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday sought to woo in his bid to reach out to audiences nationwide in a speech that also had digs at Rahul Gandhi and the woman Governor in his state.
Women's entrepreneurship, empowerment and equality for the fair sex were the themes during his hour-long interaction organised by the FICCI Ladies Organisation in which a number of entrepreneurs, including FICCI President Naina Lal Kidwai, were present.
Observing that 50 per cent women alone could do a lot to bring economic development in the country, Modi cited examples of women in tribal areas and the dairy movement which made Amul an internationally known brand.
"But even today women are not part of the economic decision-making process. We have to change this. Bring them into the decision making process," Modi said in a speech that was repeatedly cheered by the women audience.
The Chief Minister, however, did not leave the opportunity to have a go at Rahul Gandhi, who could potentially be pitted against him in the Prime Ministerial race, and the state governor, a woman, over non-clearance of a women's reservation bill.
Talking of women's entrepreneurship, he referred to a Jasubehn, whose pizzas could beat even known international brands, in Gujarat.
"But before our friends from the media go there to find out if Jasubehn is like Kalavati, I would like to tell them she died five years back. Her pizzas, however, still have a big market," Modi said.
This was a barb aimed at Rahul Gandhi who had in a speech in Parliament referred to Kalavati, the widow of a poor farmer who had committed suicide in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra a few years ago.
Criticising Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal, the chief minister said the Assembly had passed a Bill for reserving 50 per cent seats for women in local bodies in urban and rural areas but it has still not got her assent.
"It is my misfortune that despite being a woman she has not given her assent," he said.
Lack of trust in governance poses danger to democracy: Modi
In an oblique attack on the UPA government, Modi on Monday said there was lack of trust in governance in the country which poses a "grave danger" to democracy.
The BJP leader, who is widely seen as the party's prime ministerial candidate, talked about economic reforms, supported the policy of privatisation and backed FDI in various sectors but for retail.
"The system of governance is losing credibility, which poses a grave danger. The big danger is when there is lack of trust in governance. People look for other avenues for justice and it leads to social deterioration," he said.
Modi, while elaborating on his model of governance in Gujarat, sought to suggest that the divide between the Centre and State was hampering the country's progress and underlined the need for bridging it.
"Good governance means to win the trust of the people and tell the people what you are doing and why you are doing and involve people if possible...that transparency is lacking," he said.
Addressing 'Think India Dialogue' organised by the TV18 Network, Modi also accused the Centre of stalling several initiatives of the Gujarat government ranging from supply of piped natural gas to allocation of funds for conservation of Asiatic lions.
He also mooted a new model - the P4 model - of including people in various initiatives of the government with the private sector.
"We have to go one step ahead of the PPP model to a P4 model of people-public-private partnership. We have to inform people what we are doing, involve them and then see how we can work wonders," Modi said.
Modi said the country will have to match its development with China by utilising its demographic and democratic advantages.
"You are going to have a direct confrontation with China. We will have to match its development in all areas and for that we will have to rely on two basic advantages of our demography and democracy," he said.
Noting that about 65 per cent of Indian population is less than 35 years, he said, "Our democratic dividend is little underplayed but it is regarded all over the world."
The Gujarat Chief Minister also said the youth of the country must think on a large scale.
"The problem is that we think at a very low scale. We should have a big canvas," he said, adding the disillusionment faced by the youth is widespread and even older generation feels the same.
Asked what economic measures his party will initiate if it is elected to power in the next general elections, he said, "In our system correcting delivery system is also considered economic measures...but taxation system, investment policy and licence raj will have to undergo basic changes."
Slamming frequent changes in government policies such as banning cotton exports, Modi said, "All over the world this leads to disbelief in our system and policies."
He said Gujarat was planning to introduce a policy for manufacturing defence equipment in the state.
"I am not a supporter of the arms race, but we have to ensure nation's safety. We can export defence equipment if we carefully work out our plans...Gujarat is making a new policy for defence industry...I am surprised we still import trucks for the defence forces when we can manufacture them here only," he said.