BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Sunday said the Congress was afraid of taking on a "tea vendor" from "a backward caste" in the coming Lok Sabha election.
Addressing delegates on the concluding day of a leadership meet here, Modi blamed Congress president Sonia Gandhi for not making her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi the prime ministerial candidate.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader said there was more than one reason why the Congress failed to name Rahul Gandhi for the top post despite earlier hints.
"There can be several reasons for running away (from the battlefield) but I see a human angle as well," Modi said, pausing for effect.
"When defeat is certain, which mother would send her son to the battlefield only to be slain?" he asked, triggering laughter and clapping at the Ramlila Maidan.
"Which mother would sacrifice her son in politics? So a mother's heart decided that she must save her son."
In a strong attack on the Nehru-Gandhi family, Modi said the Congress had never democratically elected its leaders.
He said the "high caste" Congress might have thought it was not right to fight a "tea vendor" from "a backward caste".
"The traditions in which they have grown up, their minds are feudalistic.
"Yes, they feel the Lok Sabha election is important, but it is an insult to fight against a tea vendor...
"How can they take on someone from a backward caste whose mother used to wash dishes," he said, triggering another round of slogans hailing Modi.
- 2014 Election is About Indian Aspirations
The upcoming Lok Sabha election is all about meeting the hopes and aspirations of every Indian, BJP's prime ministerial candidate said.
Speaking at the Bharatiya Janata Party's national council meeting here, Modi said India had never seen the kind of corruption and poor governance witnessed in the last decade.
"The 2014 polls are different because never before did the people of this country see so much corruption.
"Farmers are committing suicide, youths are unemployed, women are unsafe... A great democracy like India is leaderless, suffers from policy paralysis.
"The 2014 election is not about changing the government, but it is about (meeting) the hopes and aspirations of every Indian," he said.
- Congress Workers Wanted Rahul, Got Gas Cylinders
BJP star also said that Congress workers were expecting a prime ministerial candidate at the party's meet Friday but got instead "three more gas cylinders".
"Congress workers came to Delhi with a lot of hope. They were told that on the 17th (of January), the PM candidate will be announced," Modi told a Bharatiya Janata Party leadership meet here.
"They came for a prime minister and went back with three gas cylinders," he said.
In his speech at the Congress session Friday, party vice president Rahul Gandhi sought three extra cooking gas cylinders for everyone now entitled to only nine cylinders a month.
- Tea Vendors are Holding Heads High
Tea vendors are holding their heads high and are being welcomed everywhere, said Modi - who sold tea when he was young - said Sunday.
"The 'chai wala' is being welcomed across the country. Tea vendors are holding their heads high," Modi told a BJP leadership meeting here, triggering cheering and clapping at the Ramlila Maidan.
Modi's comments followed Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's barb that Modi was free to sell tea at a Congress session Friday.
Modi said the Congress had a "feudalistic mindset" and they were finding it difficult to adjust with someone who sold tea, who was from a "backward caste" and whose mother once washed utensils in other homes.
- Need to See Women as Nation-builders
Modi Sunday also said people's perspective towards women needs to change and they should be seen as "nation builders".
"We have so far seen women as home-makers, we need to see them as nation-builders now. That will change our perspective," Modi said, adding the BJP would launch a programme to save the girl child and educate them.
"We cannot face the world in the wake of what is happening with women in India. We need to create an atmosphere where they are safe," Modi said.
"Along with law, we also need to change the social perspective towards them," he said.