Ahmedabad: At a massive show of strength in Ahmedabad during the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) 33rd Foundation Day celebrations, the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday took on the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and a 'contender' for prime minister in 2014 polls Rahul Gandhi, slamming his speech to India Inc. In a frontal attack, Modi said he was "disappointed" with Rahul's speech that the Congress Vice President made to business leaders.
The BJP leader also countered Rahul's idea of India as a "beehive buzzing with the energy and aspirations of a billion people", saying for the BJP, the "country was our mother". "I happened to listen to a speech by a Congress leader two days back, whose words are considered to be very important for that party. I was deeply shocked and pained when he compared India to beehive. For you, this might be a beehive but for us this country is our mother. Hundred crore people of this country are our brothers and sisters. This is a sacred land of saints and seers. Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to say every particle of this land is Lord Shankar for us," Modi said.
"Friends from Congress, please do not insult our country. If you do not understand the language of people of India, go and learn from somewhere. But due to your ignorance, do not try to destroy the culture and tradition of this country," Modi said. "I want to tell my Congress friends that your arrogance of being in power in Delhi is not going to survive for long," Modi said. The Gujarat Chief Minister was elevated to the BJP Parliamentary Board and Central Election Committee on March 31, paving the way for a national role for him in the party.
Modi also slammed the Congress party for using the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to harass BJP leaders and workers. In what sounded more like an election speech, Modi claimed there can be no comparison between the Congress and the BJP as both have very different characters and thinking. "Forget about the Congress ever reforming itself for it can never reform.... The kind of language they are using, the expletives and the way they are misleading the people," Modi said, alluding to Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi describing him as "Yamaraj (God of death)".
"The people of Gujarat have responded to the abusive language used by the Congress leaders against the BJP. They have wiped the Congress off from Gujarat for trying to mislead the people of Gujarat," Modi, who won the Gujarat elections in December 2012 for the third consecutive time, said.
He said there will be no let up in his hardwork for "Bharat Mata (the nation)". Modi had reportedly made clear his prime ministerial ambitions earlier this week when he said the time has come for him to pay back his debt to "Bharat Mata". Modi claimed BJP is one of the rare parties which came to power at the Centre in its "youth". In an interesting comparison, he said Britain's Labour Party had taken 80 years since its formation to achieve this.
The newfound bonhomie between Modi and BJP President Rajnath Singh was also visible on the stage with the Gujarat Chief Minister describing the latter as his "margadarshak (guide)". Rajnath dubbed him as the most popular leader of the country, who followed Mahatma Gandhi's path in developing Gujarat.
Addressing a massive crowd, Rajnath also took potshot at Rahul Gandhi and said the Congress Vice President will have no impact. "It hurts when a leader like Modi is called "Maut ka saudagar". People will teach Congress a lesson for calling Modi "Yamraj"," the BJP leader added. The Congress had compared Modi to "yamraj", the Lord of Death in Hindu mythology.
Rajnath also said that now there were not two but 'two and half' power centres in the Congress. "There is PM, party president and half a power centre has come now in the form of new vice-president. So, there are two and half power centres. But BJP is not worried about them."
Rajnath also criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on economic policies and relations with Pakistan. "When BJP was in power, inflation was under control and unemployment was at the lowest. India was rapidly progressing. But after UPA government came to power, inflation and unemployment have gone up. Faulty economic policies, mismanagement and above all the corruption of this government are responsible for the rise in inflation and unemployment," he charged.
"Now, the Prime Minister talks about continuing with economic reforms. I do not know what is he going to do," Rajnath said. On foreign policy, Singh said "a small country like Pakistan was daring India by beheading our soldiers but this government is not doing anything". "They had stopped visa-on-arrival for senior Pakistani citizens after beheading of our soldiers and yesterday they restarted it. I want to ask the PM: has Pakistan given an assurance that it will stop exporting terror to India so you started giving visa on arrival?" Rajnath said.
(With Additional Inputs From PTI)