Narendra Modi flanked by Yashwant Sinha (on his right) and state BJP chief Ravindra Rai and Jayant Sinha (on his left) in Hazaribagh on Tuesday. (Vishvendu Jaipuriar)
Hazaribagh/Dhanbad, April 15: BJP’s prime minister hopeful Narendra Modi launched blistering attacks on the Congress at twin rallies in Hazaribagh and Dhanbad, getting enough fodder from the ongoing toffee-trophy row and explosive memoirs of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s former media adviser.
Responding to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi who dubbed Gujarat a “toffee model” where industrialists like Gautam Adani got land at the price of a toffee, Modi drubbed Rahul as “childish”.
“Aisa khiladi hai jiske dimag se bachpan jata nahin hai (he’s a player who is still childish),” Modi said without naming him or addressing realty charges.
He urged the gathering of 50,000 in Hazaribagh and 10,000 in Dhanbad to choose between toffee and trophy.
“Kya aap toffee aur balloon se khelne wale ko vote doge? Mere naseeb mein bachpan mein toffee nahin tha par Gujarat mein meri sarkar 300 se adhik trophies jeete hai achche kamo se. Ab aap batao toffee chunoge ya trophy (Will you vote for someone playing with toffees and balloons? In my childhood, I didn’t get toffees but my Gujarat government has won over 300 trophies for good work. Now say if you will choose toffee or trophy),” Modi said.
Referring to PM’s former media adviser Sanjaya Baru’s book The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh, Modi said it was now clear that ma-beta and beti-jamai (Sonia-Rahul and Priyanka-Robert Vadra) and not Singh “were responsible for misdeeds”.
Modi reached Hazaribagh’s Gandhi Maidan in posh Matwari Mohalla by chopper around 11.30am, around 70 minutes late, but made up for the delay with verbal fireworks in his 24-minute speech.
He lauded BJP’s Hazaribagh MP hopeful Jayant Sinha for shedding his “suit-tie” for the “kurta-pyjama”.
“Parliament this time will have to install high-resolution cameras to catch a few Congress MPs in a corner,” he said to loud cheers in Hazaribagh.
In Dhanbad’s Karkend, he told the 10,000-plus crowd at Nehru Ground during his 40-minute speech: “Delhi’s pundits are predicting 5 per cent votes to swing this way or that, but I am telling you this election is not about arithmetic. Rather, it is the chemistry of love between people and me and a new history will be created after the election.”
Dismissing Jharkhand’s frequent central ministerial visitor Jairam Ramesh as a “Gandhi family devotee”, Modi added the Union minister demeaned his country when in November 2011 he called India the world’s dirtiest place.
But Modi’s most pressing local issues in Dhanbad were ISM and underground coal fires. “ISM is one of the most prestigious institutions of Asia but I can’t understand why people sitting in Delhi can’t give it IIT status,” Modi said to huge applause.
Appealing to youths, he said: “Elect a government in Delhi that works for you. Every day between the ages of 18 and 28 years is crucial for your future. If you elect wrong, you spoil five crucial years.”
Modi reached Hazaribagh at 11.30pm. He reached Dhanbad at 12.45pm. An hour later, he flew to pilgrim town Dumka.
His comfort in addressing Jharkhand may have caused him to lose count of his visits. Amid high praise in Hazaribagh — “aapko dekhkar lagta hai ki Hindustan ki zimmewari Jharkhand ne utha li hai (seems Jharkhand has taken the onus of India to change the central government)” — Modi said it was his third round to the state. In fact, today was his fourth after March 27 (Gumla-Chatra), April 2 (Koderma-Palamau) and April 10 (Jamshedpur).
Among other speakers, in Hazaribagh, sitting MP Yashwant Sinha said Baru’s allegations that confidential files went from the PMO to Sonia Gandhi should be probed. His son Jayant and MP hopeful promised “shandar hospital and jobs” for Hazaribagh. State BJP chief Ravindra Rai also spoke briefly. In Dhanbad, MP hopeful P.N. Singh and others were present.