AHMEDABAD: The stage was Gujarat, but the backdrop was the Congress’s internal polls for Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to the party president’s post. Resuming his campaign for the first phase of the Assembly elections on his home turf, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing rallies in Bharuch, Surendranagar and Rajkot, took pot-shots at the Congress for ‘intolerance’, lack of inner party democracy, opposing him for the sake of opposing — like on the bullet train project — and for ‘divisive’ politics.
It was as if he was not just campaigning to help his party win the Gujarat Assembly, but wanted to ensure that all accusations that the Congress — or his critics — have flung on his government in the last one year, boomeranged on them in the process. Using the Yogi-led government’s clean sweep in the UP civic polls as fresh ammunition to puncture the Opposition’s narrative, Modi said: “In Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress ruled for decades, the State from where generations of top Congress leaders are from... we saw what happened there in the local elections. Congress was wiped out. UP knows Congress well and so does Gujarat.”
The Prime Minister, pooh-poohing those who criticised him for clinching the high-value bullet train project with Japanese aid instead of focusing on improving basic rail infrastructure, said, “Those opposing the bullet train project should travel on bullock carts. We won’t mind.” Hitting back at Gandhinagar archbishop Thomas Macwan, who warned people against ‘nationalist forces’, the PM said his government had got back Father Tom and Father Prem from terrorists in Yemen and Afghanistan.
Modi recalls violence in Congress tenure
In Bharuch and Kutch, where Muslims are in big numbers, Modi recalled that during the Congress rule, the area would be mostly under curfew because of violence.