The Telegraph
Sunday , February 9 , 2014
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Harvard barb at PC

Chennai, Feb. 8: Hard work, not Harvard.

Narendra Modi today ripped into P. Chidambaram at a public meeting in the Union finance minister’s home state where he took on the Congress leader for denigrating his knowledge of economics.

“It is hard work that is needed to make the economy work and not Harvard,” Modi told the rally in Chennai but didn’t name Chidambaram even once.

“You need a postage stamp for a letter to be delivered. Similarly, you look at my delivery,” the BJP’s 2014 mascot said.

The context was Chidambaram’s comment that Modi’s knowledge of economics could be written on the backside of a postage stamp.

“The recount minister is so arrogant that he thinks he was first in the line when God distributed knowledge but look what this Harvard-educated finance minister and an economist Prime Minister have done to ruin our economy,” Modi said.

The taunt “recount minister” was an allusion to Chidambaram’s 2009 victory from Sivaganga by a narrow margin after a recount.

Modi said the country’s GDP was a healthy 8.06 per cent under Atal Bihari Vajpayee but had dipped to 4.5 per cent under the UPA government. “In Gujarat when I took over in 2001 the GDP was minus 4.8 per cent but today it stands at 10.8 per cent — a double-digit growth,” he said.

Modi also compared the country’s unemployment rate of 2.2 per cent with that of Gujarat’s 0.5 per cent to contrast the performance of his government with that of the UPA. “This is the achievement of a state whose tea-selling chief minister has never even seen the gates of Harvard University. What you need, Mr Recount Minister, is not just knowledge from books. One should remain close to the people, understand their problems and have the vision to solve them,” he told the large turnout.

Modi once worked as a tea stall boy and the BJP has been harping on his humble origins to connect with the underprivileged.

The BJP’s candidate for Prime Minister also attacked Rahul Gandhi. “A Congress leader today ridiculed the people of Gujarat by using a phrase normally associated with an abuse. He called them ullu as if they are idiots. If they were idiots, would they have kept the Congress out of Gujarat for 25 years? A similar fate awaits the Congress in the rest of the country,” Modi said.

At a meeting today in Gujarat, Rahul had said people from all professions — such as tea vendors, labourers and farmers — should be respected but not those who make “a fool (ullu)” of others.

Modi avoided any reference — direct or indirect — to Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa who recently firmed up an alliance with the Left.