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Modi skirts riots, party fetes accused

Agra, Nov. 21: Narendra Modi today skipped mention of the Muzaffarnagar riots and “shehzada” Rahul Gandhi, attacking the Congress instead for alleged corruption and misgovernance and prodding the people to rid the nation of such “termites”.

Accusing the Congress of not being interested in the nation’s welfare at his Agra rally, he alleged: “They have turned thick-skinned. They think the people of the nation are in their pocket. They are not concerned about them. They have turned arrogant. This arrogance and nepotism of the Congress is eating into the nation like termites.”

The BJP’s Prime Minister candidate touched on the missing coal files, drawing applause from the crowd. “Kitna bhi bada badmash ho, woh koyla nahi churata. Par Dilli main aisi sarkar hai jo koyla bhi kha gayi (Even the worst lout never steals coal, but the government in Delhi is such that it didn’t even spare coal).”

Although Modi did not talk of the Muzaffarnagar riots, two BJP MLAs accused of a role in them were “felicitated” before he arrived. Suresh Rana and Sangeet Som’s felicitation — the BJP claims the duo, now out on bail, have been framed in the riots — was one of the reasons for holding the rally.

Senior BJP leaders Kalraj Mishra and Uttar Pradesh party chief Laxmikant Bajpai did the honours.

Several speakers, including former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, talked of the riots. Singh blamed the riots on the Samajwadi Party’s alleged minority appeasement policy and biased administration.

“Uttar Pradesh is ruled by four-and-a-half chief ministers. Mulayam Singh, Azam Khan, Shivpal Singh Yadav and Ramgopal Yadav are the four, while Akhilesh Yadav in half a CM,” he said, in context of the state’s law and order.

Modi too criticised the Samajwadi’s purported minority appeasement policy, reserving a rap for the Congress too. “Congress talks about 25 per cent of Indians and ignores 75 per cent of Indians,” he claimed.

“Both the SP and BSP have learnt votebank politics from the Congress and are busy making their own equations.”

Even as he spared Rahul the routine “shehzada” jibe, Modi trained guns on foreign minister Salman Khurshid, raking up allegations that a charity run by him and wife Louise had siphoned off Rs 70 lakh meant for the disabled.

“While a central minister is stealing Rs 70 lakh, another central minister defends the accused saying Rs 70 lakh is too little, if it were Rs 70 crore it could have been believable,” Modi said, referring to a comment made by steel minister Beni Prasad Verma at that time in Khurshid’s defence.

Earlier, he began his speech by talking of local issues such as Agra’s poor infrastructure, its inadequately harnessed tourism potential, scarcity of drinking water and unemployment.

Using his usual technique of questioning the crowd, Modi asked: “Didn’t the Congress promise to give employment to one crore people before coming to power?” After getting a response from the crowd, he fired another question: “Is there anyone here who has got any job from Delhi’s government?”

EC censure

The Election Commission has disapproved of Modi’s “khooni panja” (bloodied hand) remark made during a poll campaign in Chhattisgarh and asked him to be more careful in the future.

Taking note of Modi’s remarks, which he claimed were used figuratively and colloquially, the poll panel said it was not satisfied with his reply to the notice for model code violation.

It said references to political rivals with expressions such as “khooni panja” and “zalim haath” (ruthless hand) “cannot but be construed as injurious to the cause of decorous political discourse”.