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Congress bid to turn focus back on Modi

New Delhi, Nov. 28: The Congress today accused Narendra Modi of self-projection through propaganda, half-truths and lies while warning the BJP that its prime ministerial candidate was seeking to belittle the party and its senior leaders.

Union law minister Kapil Sibal launched the attack on Modi while trying to rebut the BJP charge of shielding journalist Tarun Tejpal from the sexual assault charges by a colleague. Sibal also denied that he owned shares in Tehelka or was related to Tejpal.

While the Congress has been repeatedly asserting that Tejpal needs to be punished, it is acutely worried that the controversy has shifted public attention from the snooping charges in Gujarat.

Desperate to bring the discourse back to Modi, Sibal released a 32-page document titled “truth versus hype” that furnished statistics to allege that the touted Gujarat model of development was a political project to mislead the nation.

“Modi is trying to put down everyone else — the rest of India — and give credit only to himself for everything as if he is a messiah. He changes history, he changes statistics, he misrepresents facts. You cannot become the Prime Minister through false propaganda,” Sibal said.

He taunted the BJP, saying: “In (Modi’s) self-projection, he never even mentions the BJP. While the rest of the BJP keeps talking about Modi, he himself does not talk about any other leader of his party.”

Sibal added: “Modi never mentioned L.K. Advani or Sushma Swaraj. He has nothing to do with the BJP leadership. All the time he is projecting himself. They should be worried.”

The minister went on to suggest that the BJP should change its candidate for Prime Minister.

Describing Gujarat under Modi as the “most indebted state of India”, the document claims that the average growth rate of Delhi has been 11.39 per cent while Gujarat has grown at 10.13 per cent.

Its says that with $30 billion worth of foreign direct investment, Delhi stands second to Maharashtra ($50 billion) while the figure for Gujarat is less than $10 million.

According to the document, the fiscal deficit in Delhi was Rs 2,600 crore in 2012-13 while Gujarat’s was Rs 17,830 crore.

Sibal said that despite Modi’s claim of 100 per cent electrification in Gujarat, the state ranked 16th in the percentage of homes with electricity.

“Over 11 lakh households do not have electricity in a state that boasts of a power generation capacity of over 14,000MW and claims to have 2,000MW of surplus power,” he said.

“Recently, he (Modi) said that Gujarat spent 65 per cent of its budget on development schemes. In reality, it was 38 per cent. Gujarat has the highest ever per capita debt of Rs 23,163. Gujarat also has to pay a mind-boggling interest of Rs 34.5 crore every day.”

Sibal added: “Modi talks about investment summits (but) does not reveal the projects that were implemented. In 2003, only 27 per cent projects were implemented whereas in 2011, only 13 per cent projects were implemented. The social sector expenditure in Gujarat was far behind several states.”

Over the past few days, the Congress has been harping on the snooping controversy, virtually to the exclusion of any other criticism of Modi and Gujarat.

Even today, Sibal claimed: “Snoopgate will not be allowed to be whitewashed or brushed under the carpet. We believe that action should happen in this case.”

Congress spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das asked why the Gujarat government had not registered a case in the controversy whereas the Goa government had rightly registered a case on the sexual assault charges against Tejpal.

“The Congress respects women’s freedom and fights for their protection everywhere. The BJP’s double standard is exposed. They fight for women’s protection in Goa but not in Gujarat,” Das said.

“What Vijay Jolly did in Delhi is condemnable. They insult, abuse and humiliate women in the name of protecting another woman’s dignity.”

Das denied that Tejpal was being protected and said he should be punished.