M A I N   N E W S

Assam to Gujarat: A tale of two rallies
PM did nothing for N-E: Modi
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 8
BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Saturday fired a broadside at Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh for failing to usher in all-encompassing development in Assam and the North-East despite representing the region in Parliament for 23 years, first as Union Finance Minister and then as Prime Minister.

Addressing a “mass awakening” rally here that was attended by over 1.5 lakh persons, Modi said, “You (the people of Assam) have given Dr Manmohan Singh 23 years in Parliament. You have made a big investment. But what have you got in return? If after 23 years his constituency (Assam) is in such a sorry state, then what will the country’s fate be?”

“You have given the country its Prime Minister, your CM is from the same party (Congress) that is in power in New Delhi. Still, Assam is among the worse-developed North-East states, even worse than Nagaland. A cup of Assam tea wakes up crores of people every day, yet Assam has the most number of poor,” Modi said.

He said it pained him to see Assam lagging far behind on the development path despite its wealth of natural resources and a huge pool of capable young talent.

“The country’s Eastern and Northeastern states are backward as compared to the western ones due to the wrong policies of successive Congress governments at the Centre. The BJP is committed to bringing about parity in development by putting North-East states on the fast track of development. We initiated the process when Atal Behari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. The DoNER Ministry was formed and a system was put in place to ensure all Union ministries set aside 10 per cent of the total budgetary allocation for the North-East,” Modi said. “You have tolerated the Congress for 60 years, give us (BJP) just 60 months and see how your dreams for a better life get fulfilled,” Modi said.

‘Nido’s death a national shame’

Imphal: Narendra Modi said the death of Arunachal student Nido Taniam in Delhi was a matter of national shame and asked the Centre and the Delhi Government to ensure justice for him.


Rahul takes tea vendor jibe
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bardoli (Gujarat), February 8
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched what was perhaps his fiercest attack so far against the BJP and its PM candidate Narendra Modi to reclaim the Sardar Patel legacy for his party.

Addressing a rally at tribal-dominated Bardoli in south Gujarat -- the place also known as the ‘karm bhoomi’ of India’s Iron Man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel -- Rahul lashed out at the saffron party and its ideological fountainhead, the RSS, in the news lately after an “interview” by terror-blast accused Swami Aseemanand. Rahul attacked Modi’s knowledge of history and effectively used his now-famous “tea boy background” to take a dig at the Gujarat CM, though without naming him. “People are involved in various professions. Some make tea, others drive taxi… some are engaged in farming. We have to respect everyone. We have to respect the tea vendor, the labourer and the farmer. ‘Par jo ullu banata hai uski izzat nahin ki ja sakti’ (but those who make fool of others, should not be respected),” he told his cheering audience, in an obvious reference to Modi.

The comment assumes significance as it comes soon after Rahul reportedly told Congress spokespersons to desist from making personal attacks against any political leader.

The rally at Bardoli was, in fact, the culmination of the Youth Congress ‘Vikas Khoj Yatra’ -- a march in search of development -- was a direct challenge to the Gujarat CM’s claim of development and growth in his state. Modi’s stories of progress in Gujarat form an essential part of his poll campaign across the country.

However, Rahul’s first Lok Sabha public meeting on Modi’s home turf was also an attempt to send across the message that Sardar Patel, whom Modi has almost hijacked, was an important part of the Congress. The Grand Old Party and Modi are locked in a fierce battle over Sardar Patel’s legacy. Now, that the Congress has realised, though belatedly, the Gujarat CM’s attempt to stake claim to the freedom fighter, a Congressman, the aim is to wrest control.

Rahul repeatedly referred to Modi building a statue of Sardar Patel without knowing about the man who “shaped the ideology of the Congress”. “They are making a murti (statue) of Sardar Patel, but have no idea of his vichardhara (ideology). According to Sardar Patel, the RSS was an organisation with a poisonous mindset (zehrili vichardhara) which will destroy the soul (aatma) of India. They have no understanding of either Patel or Mahatma Gandhi… which vichardhara killed Gandhi? Their vichardhara. Sardar Patel had asked for a ban on the RSS,” he said.

Modi is building Sardar Patel’s statue in the middle of Narmada river. The BJP has launched a programme to collect iron implements from every village in the country for the statue.

“Whatever he (Modi) wants to say… jhooth-sach (truth or lies)… he just says it from the stage,” Rahul said, as he went on to make some more personal attacks against Modi on the “snoopgate” controversy. “The whole country knows how much he respects women,” Rahul said.

Rahul went on to list the Congress achievements of MNREGA and RTI and lashed out at Modi for staking claim to Gujarat’s achievements. “The work has been done by the people of Gujarat, but they stake claim,” he said.



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