Modi in his 65-minute speech to former soldiers in this south Haryana town, 90 km from Delhi, sought to project a national outlook. He touched on relations with neighbours, terrorism, defence, secularism and vote-bank politics.
Though the event was scheduled weeks in advance, the rally turned out to be Modi's first big political outing immediately after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Friday named him its prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections.
The massive crowds cheered Modi every time he made an important point.
On Pakistan, Modi said that promoting gun culture had done the neighbouring country no good over the last 60 years.
"The rulers in Pakistan should resolve that they will not allow terrorists (to operate) in Pakistan for 10 years, will not protect terrorists, will not allow its soil to be the breeding ground for terrorists," he said.
"I can say with authority that if this happens, Pakistan will see the progress that it has not seen in the last 60 years," he said.
He said Pakistan has "converted India into a war zone through its war mindset and support for terrorism".
"Earlier, the war used to take place on the border. But when you (Pakistan) could not defeat the Indian Army, you started going for killing innocent citizens."
Amid cheers, Modi, dressed in a white kurta-pyjama, went on: "You cannot progress with anti-India tirade... For your own interests and for the youth of your country, you should rethink the wrong path you have chosen in the last 60 years and step back."
Calling for throwing out the United Progressive Alliance-led (UPA) central government, he told the gathering: "You should challenge the government in Delhi as it is ineffective."
He said that neighbouring countries like Pakistan and China were trying to create trouble on the borders with India and were being aided by the "weak policies" of the central government.
Caption: Modi projects national outlook in first public rally
Without naming anyone, Modi said those who talk about secularism were doing so only for vote-bank politics. "They should go and see how the army is a symbol of secularism," he said.
Taking a dig at some "big countries", he said they were indulging in being "selective on dealing with terrorism".
Thousands of people, including former soldiers, turned up for the rally. Seeking to reach out to the ex-servicemen, Modi asked the UPA government to bring out a white paper on the long-standing demand of former soldiers for "one rank one pension".
He also complimented scientists on the successful launch of the nuclear-capable Agni-V missile Sunday morning.
Sharing the dais were former army chief Gen. V.K. Singh and a number of retired military officers, including Olympic silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore who joined the party recently.
As Modi got on to the dais, he was greeted with thunderous applause by the crowd gathered there despite sweltering heat inside the tented venue.
Enthused by the response, Modi said: "No camera can capture this moment. No eye can capture it fully. This is a call for change from this land of Haryana. This is a call to the sultanate of Delhi."
"There is visible enthusiasm to listen to Modi among people, including the large number of ex-servicemen who have come from different parts of Haryana," said Gen. V.K. Singh.
Modi flew in to Rewari, which is not a traditional support base of the BJP, in a helicopter from Delhi.
As he started to speak, there was almost a stampede-like situation around the dais. "He is a decisive leader and an honest person," retired JCO Rajinder Singh, who was present, told IANS.
"I support Modi and will vote for him though I never vote for BJP," said Vikas Yadav, who has finished his MBA.
Modi was referred to as a future prime minister by the other speakers. There were huge Modi hoardings around the venue with the parliament building in the background.
--IANS (Posted on 15-09-2013)