Narendra Modi with Odisha state BJP president K.V. Singh Deo (second from right) and other leaders in Sambalpur on Friday. (PTI)
Bhubaneswar, March 14: The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi today accused the Congress of running down venerable institutions while desperately looking for excuses to justify a “certain” defeat in the ensuing elections.
However, while Modi went hammer and tongs against the Congress inventing new sobriquets to mock the party and was particularly severe on external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, he appeared surprisingly reluctant to take on chief minister Naveen Patnaik at the BJP’s “Bijay Sankalp” rally in Sambalpur, about 300km from here.
Naveen, the prime target of his attack during his first rally in the state here last month, was today merely a blip on the Gujarat strongman’s radar. “Why should I waste time talking about a man who does not have time for the people of his state and who, despite a massive mandate, failed to improve their lot,” said Modi.
But, he went against the Congress, especially Khurshid, with all guns blazing. Slamming Khurshid’s reported remarks in London in which he had criticised the Election Commission and the Supreme Court, Modi said it was unfortunate that the minister had used a foreign land to target the two respected institutions of the country.
“I wonder which country does he represent. He has gone to London to abuse the EC. He has destroyed its reputation. They (Congress) are looking for excuses for their certain defeat. He has attacked the Supreme Court also. Prime Minister, it is your responsibility to look into it,” said the BJP veteran as the capacity crowd at Ainthapalli cheered.
Modi tore into the Congress saying its name should be changed from Indian National Congress to Institution Neglecting Congress as it had made a habit of attacking and abusing institutions. He also accused the Congress of neglecting tribal people and going back on its promises. “If somebody is inefficient, he can be forgiven. But can you forgive someone committing breach of trust?” he asked, adding that the Congress had failed to keep its promise of bringing down prices. He said the party had committed to rein in prices “within 100 days” during the 2009 general elections but was far from doing this even after five years.
Modi also mocked the Congress’s unctuous concern for tribal people of the country. “For all their concern for the adivasis, the truth is it was Atalji (Atal Behari Vajpayee), who created a separate ministry for tribal affairs and allocated funds for schemes aimed at their development,” he said.
Accusing the UPA of pushing through a series of legislations with an eye on the elections, Modi took a swipe at the Congress for its late realisation about the need for food security in the country. “It took the Congress over 60 years to realise that there was a need for the Food Security Act,” he said.
Modi, who played to the gallery beginning his speech in Sambalpuri and invoking local hero Veera Surendra Sai while underscoring the need for creating a market for Sambalpuri saris, said the only agenda of his rivals was to try and stop him though he believed in the politics of development. “I am working 24 hours a day to find solution to India’s problems. They are working to find a solution to Modi,” he said.
Stating that he was interested in the politics of development, jobs and prosperity, Modi called upon the people to throw the Congress out of power at the Centre in their own interest. “Otherwise the world will gallop past us and we will remain laggards. The more you tolerate them (Congress), the more pain they will inflict on you,” he said.
Sources said Modi’s decision to pull his punches against the chief minister was deliberate as Naveen of late has been cool to Third Front overtures. “The BJP, it seems, still looks at him as a possible ally in the post-poll scenario. Hence Modi is keeping his options open,” said a senior party leader.
However, senior BJD leader Prasanna Acharya hit back at Modi, saying that instead of finding faults with others he should turn the mirror inwards. “He did nothing to help Odisha when cyclone Phailin hit the state. Now, he is talking big,” said Acharya.