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BJP mascot tears into Cong ‘tradition’

New Delhi, Jan. 19: Narendra Modi today questioned the Congress’s “inability” to name its prime ministerial candidate and Sonia Gandhi’s stand that it was the party’s “tradition” that elected MPs chose their leader in Parliament.

The BJP mascot claimed the main reasons the Congress had stepped back from naming Rahul Gandhi was the “certain” defeat it faced in the upcoming elections.

“It is staring everyone in the face. Would any mother wish to sacrifice her son on the altar of a political debacle? A mother’s instinct is to save her son,” he said to repeated applause.

The other trigger, Modi claimed, was the Congress found it “insulting” to pit a “high-born”, “pedigreed” Rahul against a “low-born” tea vendor like him from an indigent family and a backward caste.

Addressing the BJP national council’s concluding session, Modi endorsed his colleague Arun Jaitley’s comment on the AICC’s January 17 plenary.

Jaitley had said Congress workers came to see Rahul as their Prime Minister contender and left with “three gas cylinders”. The reference was to the Centre’s decision to raise the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders from nine to 12 following Rahul’s intervention.

Modi said it was “amusing” to listen to democratic conventions being quoted. “The country wants to know how and when was the first PM of Independent India elected? What happened to democratic traditions? In one voice, the Congress wanted to have Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as its PM. But Patel was not elected as the PM. Now the Congress has the audacity of speaking of democratic traditions,” he said.

At an AICC meeting on Thursday, Sonia had said the party had a “tradition for decades” that MPs “choose their leader in the Lok Sabha”.

When Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984, Modi went on, “Rajiv Gandhi was in Calcutta. He landed in Delhi and went straight to the hospital to see his mother. Within hours, he was appointed PM. Was there a party meeting? Were there any minutes, notes? Obviously, two or four persons must have met and decided Rajiv should be sworn in and here you (Sonia) are giving lessons in traditions?” Modi said.

There was more to come.

“When UPA I was formed, there was no parliamentary party meeting that elected Dr Manmohan Singh as the PM or the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party,” he claimed.

One of the reasons for the Sangh choosing Modi as the 2014 mascot was the perception that he was the only BJP leader to have openly confronted the Congress whenever the occasion arose.

In the run-up to firming up Modi’s candidacy, a factor that went against Sushma Swaraj, mentioned as a probable, was her perceived proximity to Sonia and her “inability” to be confrontationist against the Congress in the Lok Sabha.

The Sangh had the same view about veteran leader L.K. Advani.

Today, for the first time, both Sushma and Advani lauded Modi. The two had held out against his elevation till the last.

Advani extolled Modi’s speech as “uttam” (excellent) and claimed he would become Prime Minister in June 2014 when it was time for the next government to take over. He said in the last 16 years, he had not beheld such a “surcharged” conclave as this one. “I feel happy to see the distance the BJP has travelled,” Advani said.

Sushma said Congress workers must “already be hugely demoralised” at the thought of prospective defeat because their leaders “have run away” from declaring a Prime Minister candidate. “We have Modi as our candidate and our workers’ morale is very high.”