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Modi starts yatra, with dare to PM

Ahmedabad, Sept. 11: Narendra Modi today launched a month-long rathyatra ahead of the December Assembly polls, asking the Congress not to use the CBI to target him and challenging the Prime Minister to face a special investigation team probe on the coal-block controversy.

The chief minister kicked off his Vivekananda Yuva Vikas Yatra, which is to cover all the 182 Assembly constituencies in the state, from the temple town of Becharaji in Mehsana district in the presence of Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh. He is riding the same chariot that L.K. Advani had used during his anti-corruption Jan Chetna Yatra last year.

Addressing a rally at Becharaji, Modi appealed to people to work towards a “Congress-free Gujarat” on the lines of the “gutka-free Gujarat” campaign to wipe out “cancer”.

Modi signalled his intention to continue milking Gujarati pride by indicating he would make the “injustice meted out to Gujarat” his main poll plank.

“They (the Congress) have abused me, called me names. The Congress is not fighting alone in Gujarat, it is fighting along with the CBI,” he said.

“SITs are being set up to corner Modi. Come on, let us fight on the issue of development; I don’t want to fight over lies.”

The SIT probing the 2002 riot cases, however, was formed by the Supreme Court. The CBI is investigating fake encounters in Gujarat.

“I have faced multiple probes,” Modi said, “now let the Prime Minister face a SIT probe on the coal-block allocations.”

He alleged the Congress had a habit of targeting constitutional authorities by creating an atmosphere of anger against institutions that did not toe its line.

“This was Indira Gandhi’s way: if you are not with her, create an environment against them,” he said. “Now, the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) is their target.”

Modi said Congress leaders had adopted a similar stance towards the Supreme Court on the 2G scam. Now, he alleged, the Prime Minister and his colleagues were questioning the CAG’s authority.

Manmohan Singh has questioned CAG Vinod Rai’s findings on the coal-block allocations but has not attacked him personally; nor has anyone else from the government. The Congress, however, yesterday alleged a “meeting of minds” between the BJP and Rai and asked whether the latter was misusing his constitutional credibility.

Modi ridiculed state Congress leaders for their appeals to the people to oppose him during his yatra.

“Are you so scared that you won’t listen to my voice? Do you want Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister to face similar opposition when they come here,” he said, appearing to sound a veiled threat.

Blaming the UPA government for the economic situation, he said the Prime Minister should follow “the Gujarat model of development”.