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 Prime Minister on Sunday reiterated his government’s commitment to the welfare of the poor. He also called upon the middle classes to realise that they would reach the next level of prosperity only if the lot of those who are below them, the poor, improves.

While his party chief and ministerial colleagues have made it the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) chief electoral plank for the forthcoming polls to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, Modi is yet to tweet or make any public statement on the September 29 surgical strikes.

On Sunday, he indicated that he might speak on the issue in his ‘Vijayadashami’ address in Lucknow, and that it was a “very special” Vijayadashami. Modi stressed the need for a country to be “capable and strong”, but said this strength shouldn’t scare neighbours. Drawing an analogy from daily life, the prime minister said: “The neighbour need not get scared if I exercise every morning. The exercise is to keep myself healthy.”

Launching the complete works of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, the founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the earlier avatar of the BJP, Modi said to the audience at New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhavan: “We will be celebrating Vijayadashami in the next few days. This Vijayadashami is very special.” The subsequent applause from his ministerial colleagues, party and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders lasted nearly half a minute.

In his half an hour long speech, this was the only tangential, but obvious, reference to the Indian Army’s against terrorists to avenge the death of 19 Indian soldiers in Uri on September 18.

Vijayadashami is marked not just for Ram’s victory over Ravana, or Durga’s over Mahishasura, but also of forces of good over evil. In a departure from tradition, where incumbent prime ministers attend the Vijayadashami celebrations at New Delhi’s Subhash Park, Modi will attend the Ramlila celebrations in Lucknow, the capital of poll-bound UP.

He said that the days of the Cold War, where the world was divided in two camps, were over. Today, the world is interdependent, where two countries might have differences over 10 issues but agreement on four. “It is the demand of our times to make India strong,” he said.

number two Suresh ‘Bhaiyyaji’ Joshi lauded the achievements that the Modi government has notched up in its nearly 30-month tenure, particularly in securing the nation’s boundaries. He said all small and big organisations needed to contribute to the government’s efforts – including small and big social, religious and non-governmental organisations.

The prime minister stressed that his government was pursuing Upadhyaya’s vision of ‘Antyodaya’, helping the poorest, with the poor at the centre of its policies and programmes. He also appealed for creating an Indian society that was free of discrimination and full of peace and harmony.

He paid tributes to Upadhyaya for the pivotal role in making the Jana Sangh, and also the BJP, a political party with a strong organisational base, and not an outfit run by a handful of people. He recognised Upadhyaya’s role in helping travel from “vipaksha se vikalpa”, from being in the opposition to becoming the alternative.

He said Upadhayaya taught them to adapt with times, keep in step with the aspirations of the society and shed dead philosophies of the past, and that he said was the secret of the party’s success to have traversed the path from opposition to alternative in such a short time.