Hyderabad, Aug, 11: Narendra Modi today launched the BJP’s 2014 campaign from Hyderabad, recalling that local icon NTR had “lit the anti-Congress torch” and drawing a crowd that beat the party’s expectations.
Pakistan, China and Telangana were also on his lips at the first public rally as campaign chief where he also unwrapped the BJP’s new slogan, Nayi soch, nayi ummeed (new thinking, new hope).
Over a lakh people heard him, exceeding the party’s expectation of 75,000.
Modi accused the Congress-led UPA of having failed to protect the borders with Pakistan and China, his comments coming days after the killing of five soldiers in Poonch and months after the Ladakh incursions.
On Telangana, he sought to highlight the “double game” of the Congress that he said had “sown the seeds of hostility between people of Telangana and Seemandhra (the non-Telangana areas) of Andhra for electoral gains.
“Why did the Congress fail to commence the Telangana process in 2004 (when the UPA first came to power),” Modi said, alluding to statements by Congress leaders that the statehood movement had a long history.
He also took digs at the Centre’s food security bill saying food prices had spiralled to levels to deny the common man two square meals a day.
The Gujarat chief minister declared the nation was geared for a “Congress-free environment” and signed off with the slogan “Jai Telangana and Jai Samaikhyandra”, trying to placate those for statehood and those against the split.
But before that, Modi had touched on another local theme by paying rich tributes to NTR. “The torch lit by NTR has now become a wild fire and engulfed the Congress and its corrupt culture,” he said, urging leaders of the icon’s Telugu Desam to live up to his “mission”.
Modi also met NTR’s son, Desam leader and actor Balakrishna, at an interaction with Telugu film industry figures.
The BJP had left no stone unturned to make the rally a resounding success. State party chief G. Kishan Reddy said Rs 10 lakh has been raised in fees from delegates for Uttarkhand flood relief. The fee was made voluntary after the Congress and other rivals criticised the initial compulsory levy with some terming it a “payment for Modi darshan”.