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Modi CHALLENGES Congress: Let's have a debate on development

Last updated on: July 15, 2013 10:32 IST

'Secularism is a veil for the Congress'

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Reiterating his determination to wipe out the Congress, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday challenged the United Progressive Alliance to participate in a direct debate about its performance at the Centre compared to that of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Modi made these comments while addressing party workers at the Nirdhaar (Determination) Rally at the B J Medical Ground in Pune.

Nearly 25,000 BJP workers had turned up at the venue and waited patiently for over an hour to listen to what the Gujarat CM had to say.

Modi scored major brownie points with the audience by including a smattering of Marathi sentences at the beginning and at the end of his speech.

The man widely believed to be the BJP's prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections attacked the Congress and the coalition led by the party at the Centre, saying it has ruined the country on all fronts.

Modi raked up a number of issues -- from border security to the sliding Rupee -- and claimed that the issue of secularism was like a 'veil' for the Congress. The party puts on the 'veil' every time it is in an uncomfortable situation and it has misguided the country on this pretext, he said.

Reportage: Devidas Deshpande in Pune

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Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
Photographs: Devidas Deshpande

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'The arthshastri has become anarthshastri'

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"Whenever there is a crisis at Centre and the Congress is unable to defend itself, it brings up the issue of secularism. It says that secularism is in danger and then goes hiding in its bunkers. This game has been going on for the last 50 years but now this jadi buti (herbal remedy) will not work because the youth have understood their game," he said.

Pushing his much-hyped development agenda, he said, "I openly challenge this sultanat (regime) for a direct debate on the developmental works undertaken during the Vajpayee government and this government. Be it roads, be it power or any other parameter -- I am sure that the Vajpayee government's performance will be one up anytime."

In an oblique reference to the raging controversy over the alleged fake encounter of Isharat Jahan, he said, "The government is using the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to protect the lawbreakers. Can the terrorists be allowed to do whatever they want to do? It seems the central and Maharashtra government are using the law to protect the terrorists while throwing the security of the common people to the wind."

He also attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, claiming the Rupee had slid to its lowest during the tenure of the PM, who was a renowned economist.

"The Rupee and dollar were almost equal at the time of India's independence. Now the Rupee has sunk so low that it will equal the finance minister's age very soon. What type of economics is this? The thinking of Congress is so lackluster that even an arthshastri (economist) becomes anarthshastri (expert of destruction)," he said.

In a direct attack on Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Modi said that "descendants" of royal families sometimes developed a tendency to showcase the properties, forts and fortresses owned by their ancestors to their friends and foreign guests.

"This tradition is being continued by the Congress as its heir takes his coteries and the media to a tour of poverty-stricken parts of India where he resides in the huts for a night. This is what his ancestors have earned after so many years of their rule," he said.

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Image: Narendra Modi with BJP leaders Gopinath Munde and Prakash Javadekar
Photographs: Devidas Deshpande

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'Congress did not trust its allies'

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He also enumerated a number of questions the public should ask the ruling party.

"One should ask the Congress president about what happened to the promise made by the party 35 years ago to eradicate poverty. Now the party is bringing measures to provide for the poor. This is an indirect admission of the party that it can never eradicate poverty in this country. Isn't this cheating with your country," said Modi.

He also attacked the Congress over the manner in which the party recently promulgated the ordinance for the Food Security Act.

He said, "The Congress did not trust its allies. It insulted parliamentary procedures and its own allies to bring this ordinance. Whenever its performance is questioned, the party claims that it has brought one or the other Act. The country needs action, not more laws."

Reminding the audience about the slogan by freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak, he said, "He had told the Britishers that Swaraj (freedom) is my birthright. Now, we have to say that Suraaj (good governance) is my birthright."

Modi also briefly mentioned Suresh Kalmadi, Congress leader and Member of Parliament from Pune, who is mired in the several corruption charges.

Earlier, Modi interacted with the students of Fergusson College, where he inaugurated the renovated amphitheater of the over 100-year old institution.

He also visited the room in which freedom fighter and right-wing leader Veer Savarkar stayed while he was a student at Fergusson College.

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Photographs: Devidas Deshpande

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