March 20, 2005 will be written in golden letters in the annals of Indian Americans living in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. On this day braving the rough weather, a sea of humanity thronged at Madison Square Garden Theatre right in the middle of New York City to listen to Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat. Narendra Modi spoke via satellite to a jubilant crowd consisting of more than 5,000 people, and answered their questions. He delivered a very powerful speech. He kept the crowd spellbound for about one hour with his charm and wit. The magnificent spectacle was seen to be believed. More than 2,000 people could not attend the celebration because they mistook refusal of visa to Narendra Modi as cancellation of the programme.
Narrating the progress achieved by the state of Gujarat during his short tenure of three years or so, Modi said today it is one of the most prosperous states in India. ?I want to make Gujarat a model state for other states to emulate,? he said.
In the past, India had been the jagat-guru, the teacher of the world, for most of the mankind before we went into decline. Very soon, we will regain our rightful place in the comity of nations. ?Knowledge is power? and we are genetically endowed with it. Hence, twenty-first century rightly belongs to India,? he said.
When asked as to what his ?reaction? was to the denial of visa by US State Department, Modi quipped, ?I do not believe in ?reactions.? I believe in action.? To another question as to what Indian youth could do to help India, Modi suggested that if each one of the Indian Americans convinces only five non-Indian families in a year to visit India, it would create a positive understanding of India and boost the Indian tourist industry tenfold.
Most prominent leaders of Indian community were present on the occasion and each addressed the gathering briefly. As a mark of protest, one chair in the centre of the stage had been left vacant for Narendra Modi.
US Congressman, Frank Pallone got a spontaneous uproarious applause from the audience when he said, ?It was a big mistake on the part of US to deny visa to a constitutionally and democratically elected Chief Minister.?
Dr Mahesh Mehta, the founder-chairman of Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, lashing out at the anti-Hindu forces, emphasized that it was incumbent upon us to identify the anti-India elements and their sympathisers who have unleashed the hateful campaign of vilification and denigration against peace-loving Hindu people, and expose their nefarious designs.
Dr Mukund Mody, the founder of the Overseas Friends of BJP said, ?The denial of visa was based on wild accusations and distortions by those who indulged in a smear campaign against the Indian leader.? He further stated that the State Department had violated a fundamental principle of the American justice??innocent until proven guilty?. ?India has not produced slave-drivers or dropped nuclear bombs on other nations,? he added.
Dr Sudhakar Reddy, the co-chairman of the event called Modi a man with the capital ?M?.
Outside the theatre, some 30 Indian and Pakistani Muslims were shouting slogans against India and Modi.