The Telegraph
Thursday , April 3 , 2014
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Cong targets Modi model

New Delhi, April 2: The Congress today targeted what it called the “Gujarat model of democracy”, shifting focus from Narendra Modi’s development claims to expose the BJP mascot’s alleged apathy to democratic traditions.

“The Gujarat Assembly hasn’t sat for more than 23 days a year ever since Modi became the chief minister,” commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma told a media conference.

“It is known that he doesn’t give the media the privilege to question him but he never participated in the customary debate on the yearly governor’s address and the budget discussion. He is the only chief minister in the country to have done this.”

Sharma, who has also been made an election spokesperson, said: “In the Gujarat Assembly, one-third of the star questions, mostly those which are uncomfortable for the government, are not included in the list. Modi has not even once answered queries in Question Hour in the Assembly. There has been en-masse suspension of Opposition MLAs on several occasions. The live telecast of Assembly proceedings were stopped and even the media’s access to CCTV coverage was denied.”

The Congress leader asked if Modi wanted to impose this model of democracy on the country and whether this model was acceptable to the people of India.

The Congress, which has in the past tried to punch holes in the so-called Gujarat model of development, has broached this topic now to extend its pet theme: Modi’s intolerance.

“Such a man who is arrogant, has limited knowledge, uses untruths to mislead people and spreads hatred in the society must be stopped in his tracks,” Sharma said.

He also objected to Modi’s self-anointment as Prime Minister, saying: “This is a strange phenomenon that Modi has already started talking to voters as the future Prime Minister. Such arrogance has never been tolerated by Indians and his ego too will be crushed.”

Sharma also tried to send out the message that the Congress was the only force capable of taking on Modi and voting for any other party would be a vote wasted. It reflected the growing concern within the Congress that secular and Muslim voters could back other parties, particularly the AAP. “Voting for other parties will strengthen Modi,” Sharma said.

He repeatedly argued about the threat to the idea of India, indirectly appealing to other parties to rally behind the Congress.

Responding to queries on the economy and the BJP’s claims that the stock market had turned bullish in the expectation of Modi’s victory, Sharma said: “The marriage hasn’t taken place but they are taking credit for childbirth.”

He said the market was booming because the economy had done remarkably well despite the global slowdown. “The BJP was dealing with a Mickey Mouse economy, which was barely a quarter of the size it is today. FDI has increased 15 times. The BJP should not forget (that the) sensex was around 5000 during the BJP regime.”