New Delhi: The Congress on Monday launched an all out counter-attack on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for being critical of the UPA government during his speech in Pune on Sunday. Responding to Modi's 'burqa' remark, Congress leader Ajay Maken said, "The burqa of secularism is better than the nakedness of communalism. Secularism unites the nation, communalism breaks the country."
Maken also hit out at Modi for criticising the Congress over the Commonwealth Games. Questioning Gujarat's contribution to sports, Maken said, "Narendra Modi says that our Olympics performance could have been much better. I would ask Modi how many youngsters have qualified from Gujarat for the Olympics."
Slamming Modi over education in Gujarat, Maken said, "In 2011-2012, the expenditure on education by Gujarat is on the 14th place in the list. Why is Gujarat after 13 states? In Gujarat, only 4 degree and engineering colleges have regular principals. There are a lot of teacher vacancies, which are not being filled in Gujarat. When posts of principals are empty in schools and colleges in Gujarat, how is Mr Modi making these claims about education?"
"A person who has failed to perform in various sectors in his own state has no right to criticise the Centre," Maken added.
Modi had on Sunday said the government hides behind the veil of secularism whenever India faces any problem. "Congress always wears the burqa of secularism whenever they face problem. In the name of secularism, Congress government can't play with poor, teenagers and daughters of the country," Modi had said.
Taking a dig at UPA government's ambitious food security programme, Modi had on Sunday said India's priority is skill development and merely bringing in the Bill would not feed the needy. The government's decision to rush through an ordinance to put into effect its ambitious food security scheme was also slammed by Modi. "Congress decided to bring in an ordinance because it does not trust its allies anymore. It's all a fight for credit and deprives their partners of the credit" he quipped.
"Instead of distributing the grains to the poor, the government let it rot and later gave the rotting grains to liquor manufacturers despite SC orders," Modi added.
Modi also said the scam-tainted CWG games "destroyed national honour in the eyes of the world". "Two countries hosted two games...South Korea hosted Olympics and India the Commonwealth Games. While Korea brought honour to itself through the Olympics, our nation of 120 crore people lost its honour in the eyes of the world," Modi said addressing students and faculty at the Fergusson College in Pune on Sunday.
As the war of words between Modi and the Congress intensifies, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha has warned that Modi's controversial statements will shift focus from corruption. He said that the more Modi speaks the attention gets diverted from Congress's misgovernance.
"The Modi baiters have a clear game plan. The more he speaks. The more controversy he will create. The attention will shift from misgovernance and corruption to what happened more than 11 years ago in Gujarat. It will be a grave mistake to allow Congress change the agenda and force debate on its own terms," Sinha said.