In his first major public meeting after being anointed as the BJP’s election campaign committee chief, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday made a passionate appeal to the people in general and the TDP in particular to sail with him and rid the country of Congress rule.
Addressing over one lakh people at the Navabharata Yuvabheri at the LB Stadium here, he initiated an attempt to expand the BJP-led NDA at the Centre. Indirectly wooing the TDP, which was founded by the late NTR on the plank of anti-Congressism, he said, “Congress party is a burden on this nation. Today, I want to remember NTR. NTR did service not only to Andhra but also the country by helping form a non-Congress government at the Centre.” Without leaving anyone in doubt as to what he was aiming at, he added, “Only a Congress-mukt Desh will be the fitting tribute to late NTR and TDP which has inherited NTR’s legacy has the responsibility towards this.”
He reminded the TDP, a former ally of the BJP, “Whether anyone walks (with the BJP) today or not, some will walk tomorrow. Congress-mukt Bharat atmosphere has already been created and people have already seen this dream and whatever needs to be done for making India Congress-free, should be done and all such parties (read TDP) will come together.”
In between, Modi also dropped a word in praise of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa who had described him as her good friend. “If the Congress-led governments in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh do not want to learn from Gujarat about skill development, they can at least look at their neighbouring state Tamil Nadu and learn from Jayalalithaa,” he said.
The LB stadium, which has a capacity of about 50,000, was packed as BJP workers and mostly, youngsters, jostled to get in and listen to the man of the moment. Outside the stadium, scores of people stood by looking to sneak in.
Modi’s oratory was greeted with whistles, claps and slogans and the entire stadium reverberated with the NaMo mantra.
Modi, in fact, began his speech in Telugu much to their delight. He first touched upon national issues, starting from Chinese and Pakistani incursions to the economy.
“Today, you have shops with signs like pure desi ghee available here. Do you know why? Because there is corruption at every level. Did you come across such boards 40 years ago? Then the sign boards only used to read desi ghee shops. There are no doctors for the poor, there is no food, or clothes or education for the poor. The Congress has snatched food from the poor’s mouth,” he said, adding that when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister, the poor had enough to eat and there was no concept of food security.
On the Kishtwar clashes, he accused the Omar Abdullah government of concealing the truth. “No one knows how many people have been killed there, how many houses have been burnt. Arun Jaitley was detained at the Jammu airport. This is a clear conspiracy by the Omar Abdullah government to hide facts. This ‘khel’ has been going on in J&K for the last three decades,” Modi said.
However, he said the issue was not just about Kishtwar. “It is a question of people wanting peace. But the UPA has failed in providing security to the citizens of the country.”
Referring to the tension on the border, Modi said after the Pakistan soldiers cut off heads of two jawans, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said such incidents will not be tolerated. “The Pakistan Army crossed the LoC, came into our territory and ambushed brave soldiers of this country and killed them. The country wants to know why the Prime Minister has not kept his word. The country of 125 crore people is just sitting and watching such brazen acts helplessly. Whom should the countrymen believe?,” he asked.
In the same breath, he said after Pakistanis killed our soldiers, the Foreign Minister went to Jaipur and served Biryani to guests from Pakistan.
“Look at how they dealt with China. They encroached on our territory and what did they do ? Delhi forced our own soldiers to leave its Line of Actual Control (LAC). Later, our External Affairs Minister visited China and said Beijing was such a beautiful place and would like to settle there. Is he not rubbing salt into wounds? He should be ashamed,” said Modi.