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Apr 06, 2013 at 01:38pm IST

Congress steps up personal attacks against Modi, revives ghost of 2002 Gujarat riots

New Delhi: Launching another sharp attack on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who recently made a pitch for the Prime Minister's post, the Congress has virtually called him 'Yamraj' (Lord of Death in Hindu mythology).

"Had he intended to indicate Narendra Modi, he would not have referred to somebody riding a horse but somebody riding a buffalo (Yamraj's vehicle as depicted in Hindu mythology). Rahulji has talked about somebody coming on a horse, he must be referring to a messiah," said All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson Rashid Alvi. He was replying to a question whether Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was referring to Modi when he said in his CII speech on Thursday that no one person can come charging on a white horse and solve all the country's problems.

ALSO SEE Modi is not the guy on a horse, but the man on a buffalo: Alvi

The invoking of 'Yamraj' barb brings back the memories of "maut ka saudagar (merchant of death)" title that Congress president Sonia Gandhi gave Modi during the campaign for the Gujarat Assembly elections in 2007, which was believed to have boomeranged on the party. In subsequent elections, the party avoided references to the riots.

Ridiculing Modi's comments on Thursday about "repaying the debt" to nation, seen as his first-ever admission to his prime ministerial ambitions, Alvi said: "We are frightened if he wants to pay back the debt to Delhi (nation) in the same manner in which he has paid the debt to the soil of Gujarat." Modi had on Thursday said it was the duty of every child to repay the debt he owes to "Mother India".

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Striking a similar note, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari had on Friday said that he was often worried about Modi's statements and hoped he does not do in the rest of India what "he did in Gujarat in 2002. "As someone who believes in the idea of India, who believes in the plurality of Indian ethos, who is committed to the founding values of the Indian Constitution, I often worry about the statements of the Gujarat Chief Minister. I hope he doesn't want to do in the rest of India what he did in Gujarat in 2002."

Meanwhile, the BJP has accused the Congress of playing "negative communal politics" by attacking Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as it wants to divert the discourse from development. "Congress and UPA government in desperation are reacting negatively to what Modi says. Deliberately they want to communalise the issue and want to divert development discourse into a communal discourse," party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said on Friday.

Defending Modi, Javadekar said the Gujarat Chief Minister talks about development knowing very well that maintaining law and order is its primary pre-condition. "Modi was speaking about development and country knows that after 2002 unfortunate riots, Gujarat for the last 11 years has not witnessed any riots because we believe that pre-condition to development is law and order and absence of communal tension and that is what Gujarat and all BJP-ruled states have achieved," Javadekar said.

(With additional information from PTI)

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