On India's 67th Independence Day, it was Lalan College versus Lal Quila or to be more clear, it was Modi versus Manmohan.
Yes, India ushered into its 68th year of independence with an irony. On one side, for the incumbent Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, it was perhaps the "last time" that he addressed the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort and on the contrary, it seemed like the BJP's (almost finalized) prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi gave a rehearsal Independence Day speech from Shri Ramji Ravji Lalan College, Bhuj.
From Bhuj, in his 50-minute speech, Modi sounded the election bugle by throwing an open challenge to PM Manmohan Singh by criticising his 'disappointing' speech and slamming the Congress on various issues that plaque the nation today.
Amidst all the excitement over Modi's I-Day speech, an interesting fact that needs to be noted is that why Narendra Modi choose Bhuj as the battlefield to sound the election bugle to deliver his Independence day speech?
There are three possible reasons that why Narendra Modi who is at the helm now for 12 years straight, chose Bhuj, the Kutch town that bore the brunt of the deadly earthquake that had struck Gujarat in 2001, as the venue to deliver his Independence day speech:
One of the prime reason behind Bhuj as the venue of I-Day speech is that Narendra Modi is one of the few Chief Ministers who doesn't address the state from its capital. He makes his Independence Day address in different district headquarters every year.
The second reason may be that Pakistan is closely located from Bhuj. The city of Bhuj is situated around 50-60 kms from Kutch (India-Pakistan border).
After continous ceasefire violations by Pakistan, Bhuj was, quite obviously, the best venue to express patriotism for the motherland, so that its sound echoes reach to the neighbouring country as well.
He said in front of 25,000-young crowd, "I am standing here in Kutch from where my voice reaches Pakistan first and Delhi later."
The third major reason is Gujarat's development and progress.
We all remember that on 26 January 2001 (India's 51st Republic Day), Bhuj was rattled by a major earthquake of magnitude 7.7 that killed around 20, 000 people and injured 1, 67, 000 and destroyed nearly 4, 00, 000 homes (as per records).
The shock waves that lasted for two minutes turned the city of Bhuj, epicentre of the Kutch earthquake, into a devastated desert.
Since 2001, the devastated Bhuj has been completely rehabilitated by Narendra Modi's governance abilities. So, Modi must have felt pride while delivering his speech from Lalan College, Bhuj.
Modi's work post the Bhuj earthquake can also be contrasted with the 'ruins' of the Indian economy under the Congress-led UPA government.