Taking Narendra Modi head on for the first time, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today dismissed as a "myth" the Gujarat model of development and said her state was placed far better in various sectors.
In a strong rebuttal to the BJP's Prime Ministerial nominee on his charge that her party was not concerned about people's welfare, she said Tamil Nadu was ahead of Gujarat in various sectors including social indicators and industry.
"A myth has been created that Gujarat is No.1 in India.
But that is not true. The fact of the matter is that Gujarat is keen to market itself, but Tamil Nadu, under my leadership, is focussed not in making empty claims, but more determined to deliver," she told an election rally here, a day after Modi campaigned for NDA in the town in western Tamil Nadu.
Stepping up attack on AIADMK and DMK, Modi had accused the two parties of being interested only in settling personal scores rather than working for poeple whenever they came to power.
Reeling out statistics to repudiate the Gujarat development model, the main plank of Modi, Jayalalithaa said Below Poverty Rate (BPL) rate was 16.9 per cent in Gujarat while it was only 11.3 per cent in her state which was also better placed in terms of Infant Mortality Rate, at 21 per 1000 as against Gujarat's 38.
So was the case with Maternal Mortality Rate, with Gujarat accounting for 122 as against Tamil Nadu's 90, she said.
Tamil Nadu was ahead of Gujarat in other indicators like number of graduates in the manufacturing sector, better coverage of PDS even as it was ranked third in terms of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), two places ahead of Modi's state.
"Tamil Nadu attracted Rs 15,252 crore of foreign investments in 2012-13. During the same period, Gujarat received Rs 2,676 crore. You should ponder over where is Rs 15,252 crore and where is Rs 2676 crore? In software exports, Tamil Nadu is ranked fourth while Gujarat is at 11th place," she said.
Number of industries in Tamil Nadu outnumber Gujarat even as the state's foodgrains production touched 101.51 lakh tonnes in 2011-12, even as Gujarat produced only 88.74 lakh tonnes, she said adding her state was way ahead of Gujarat in many sectors, she noted.
Jayalalithaa also listed out various welfare schemes of her government including marriage assistance to poor women, free bicycles and laptops to students and the flagship free mixer-grinder-fan scheme.
Holding that she had launched the low-cost 'Amma' canteens besides a slew of social security schemes, she asked, "Aren't these schemes designed with the aim of benefiting the poor?"
This is the first direct attack on Modi by Jayalalithaa, considered a potential post-poll ally given her cordial ties with him. Both leaders had attended the swearing-in ceremonies of each other as Chief Minister in the past.
Incidentally, the AIADMK supremo had refrained from any reference to BJP in her over a month-long campaign till she criticised it last week over the Cauvery issue.