Ambikapur, Chhattisgarh: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi yesterday criticised Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and blamed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the slowing economy in a speech delivered here from a Red Fort-shaped dais, a symbolism that was not lost on anyone.
“The failure of Manmohan Singh has led the economic situation to such a level that the rupee has landed in hospital where it is battling for life and death,” Modi said at the rally in Chhattisgarh’s tribal heartland Ambikapur town, headquarters of sprawling Surguja region, some 250km from state capital Raipur.
He was unsparing while attacking the Congress.
“The Congress culture of arrogance is at the peak now. India’s over 1.25 billion people are fighting with acute poverty and inflation while its leaders are busy with giving new definitions of poverty.”
Modi, 62, was made this year the BJP’s Lok Sabha campaign chief, fuelling speculation that he is in the race for the prime minister’s post, though he stated earlier this week that he would continue to be Gujarat chief minister till 2017.
It was a tactic seen as putting pressure on the party leadership to nominate him as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
Addressing thousands of people, he made a not so veiled attack on Rahul Gandhi in his about 25-minute long speech.
“People are battling acute poverty and inflation while the Congress leaders are making a joke of the people’s plight as they have lost ‘connect’ with people and their problems.
“The Congress is running a highly insensitive government at the centre, some of its leaders say that even Rs.5 is enough for getting stomach-full food in a day while one leader made the biggest joke of people’s plight and termed poverty a state of mind,” Modi said.
Rahul Gandhi had said in Allahabad in August that “poverty is just a state of mind. It does not mean the scarcity of food, money or material things. If one possesses self-confidence, then one can overcome poverty”.
Without naming Rahul Gandhi, Modi went on: “He poured acid on poor people’s plight and misery by saying poverty is ‘a state of mind’, his grandmother must have been pained who wanted to alleviate poverty.”
He also targeted the Planning Commission, headed by the prime minister, for its poverty estimates that anyone spending over Rs.32 a day in urban areas was not poor.
BJP president Rajnath Singh and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh also addressed the rally held to mark the conclusion of the latter’s over 6,000 km long Vikas Yatra in the state where assembly elections are scheduled for December.
Modi praised his Chhattisgarh counterpart Raman Singh of the BJP and asked people to vote for him in the coming polls.
“Raman Singh has nurtured the state for the past 10 years now...vote for him as the next five years are crucial for growth,” said Modi. Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh are scheduled for December.