Washington: Denied a visa to visit US and smarting under a Wharton snub, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said his idea of secularism is "India First" and people will forgive "mistakes" of a government if it serves them well. "My definition of secularism is simple: 'India First'. Whatever you do, wherever you work, India should be the top priority for all its citizens," Modi said as he took to video conferencing to address the Indian-American community.
"Country is above all religions and ideologies," he argued and asked people to follow the same. "I agree friends that as an Indian, as a citizen who loves India, you will also agree with my definition.. We might do any work or take any decision, India should be supreme," he said in his nearly an hour-long speech in Hindi.
"Nothing less than India's well-being should be our goal. And if this happens, secularism will automatically run in our blood," the Gujarat Chief Minister said. He said if a government serve the people selflessly, then they would forgive its mistakes as well. When we get a mandate of five years, we must work on that and serve people selflessly. If we do that then people will forgive our mistakes as well," Modi said.
Modi, who often faced questions over the killing of Muslims in the 2002 post-Godhra riots that claimed over 1,200 lives, did not refer to the controversial issue. Modi was denied US visa on the issue of human rights violation. Last week, the Wharton India Economic Forum cancelled Modi's keynote address to the prestigious annual event because of opposition from a section of professors and students of the University of Pennsylvania.
But, Modi did not touch upon the controversial Wharton issue. The event organised by the Overseas Friends of BJP was planned much in advance of the Wharton controversy. Several hundred people gathered at two places - Edison in New Jersey and Chicago - to listen to Modi's speech.