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NaMo fires at Third Front, Naveen

- Alternative agenda seeks to save Congress, says Modi

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 11: BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi today trained his guns at chief minister Naveen Patnaik and poked fun at the Third Front, of which the Naveen-led BJD is a member, saying its only aim was to “save” the Congress.

In his maiden appearance here to launch his party’s poll campaign, Modi addressed an impressive gathering at the Baramunda ground. The rally threw traffic on the National Highway-5 haywire for over two hours. The Gujarat strongman, sporting his trademark kurta-pyjama, said the parties trying to cobble together a Third Front “destroyed” every state they had ruled — be it the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, Left parties in Bengal or the BJD in Odisha.

Alleging that the so-called third alternative was nothing but an attempt to help the Congress, the BJP campaign committee chief mocked the recent meeting of 11 non-Congress and non-BJP parties in Delhi as a photo op.

“At least nine of them support the Congress. Whenever elections come, they put on the Third Front mask,” he said to loud cheers of the capacity crowd consisting of mostly youths, who wore Modi masks and sported saffron caps emblazed with the slogan “Modi for Prime Minister”.

In his no-holds-barred attack on the Third Front, Modi said its only agenda was to save the Congress.

“Whenever the Congress is in a crisis, they come forward to help it. But, the time has come to expose them,” Modi said describing the 2014 elections as an opportunity to cleanse the politics of the country.

“This is no ordinary election. This is an election for purging the politics of unwanted elements,” he averred.

Always the showman, Modi began his speech in Odia but said it was his way of paying tribute to a language he loved and he did not mean, in any way, to belittle chief minister Naveen Patnaik (whose poor knowledge of the language has made him a butt of jokes). Nonetheless, he tore into the Naveen Patnaik government over lack of development in the state. “There are Odias in almost every district of Gujarat and a majority of them come from Ganjam, the chief minister’s home district. I am surprised that people even from his district are forced to go out in search of jobs,” said Modi, drawing a parallel between his and Naveen’s rule of 14 years in their respective states.

“While Gujarat has made stupendous progress during this period, in Odisha, people are being forced to migrate for want of jobs,” he said.

Modi, whose interactive style had the crowd eating out of his hands, also invoked Biju Patnaik, father of Naveen, saying the late legend must be sad to see the plight of the state he had nurtured with great care in his lifetime. “The most appropriate tribute to Biju babu would be to make Odisha a developed (uttam) state. I have not come here with mere promises, but with the intention of doing so,” he said.

Reacting to Modi’s rally, the chief minister, however, said: “It will have no impact in Odisha.”

He also touched upon the contrast of development and backwardness between western and eastern states of the country, saying that while states in the west such as Rajasthan, Goa and his own have grown, those in the east such as UP, Odisha and Bengal have lagged behind.

Stating that the country had seen many development models since Independence, he described the BJP model of growth as the best. “We have seen the Congress model, the communist model, family party model, regional party model and the BJP model. Ask any economist, he will say the BJP model of growth is the best,” he averred.

He cited Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh as the prime examples of this model of growth, saying that these BJP-ruled states were now the frontrunners in terms of development. Calling upon the people to vote the BJP to power both in the state and at the Centre, Modi blamed the Congress-led UPA for the manifold problems of the country, including price rise and rampant corruption.

“In 21st century India, the poor must have food and a home to live, the sick must get medicine and women must feel safe. This is not asking for too much. But the self-obsessed government at the Centre can’t see beyond itself. You must throw it out,” said Modi, exhorting the crowd to gear up for the big battle only a few months away.


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