Rejecting as “lies” Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s claims of Gujarat’s poor performance on social indicators such as school dropout rate, malnutrition, poverty line and mounting debt, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Thursday said the UPA government, led by the “mother-son” duo, was already staring at defeat.
Modi was addressing the public in Vadodara for the first time after filing his nomination papers from this Lok Sabha constituency on April 9. Referring to Gandhi’s public address at Valsad in south Gujarat on the same day, Modi urged her to abstain from “speaking lies in the land of the Mahatma Gandhi”.
“Madamji, don’t commit the sin of speaking lies in Gandhi’s land,” he said. Replying point-by-point charges heaped by Gandhi at Valsad, Modi said the mother-son duo was spreading lies against his government in Gujarat.
“A committee formed under the chairmanship of prime minister has not met in three years. Madam Soniaji, the lies you report state that Gujarat is the only state that has worked towards improving malnutrition significantly,” he said, replying to the charges of large-scale malnutrition found among children below five in Gujarat. Modi said that the Congress-led government had been playing the politics of poverty, without attempting to reduce the number of the poor in the country. Replying to Gandhi’s claim on high state debt standing at Rs 1.75 lakh crore, he said that the money for debt has been used for rebuilding city devastated in earthquake and to build Narmada canal.
On Gandhi’s claims that the BJP’s ideology was divisive, Modi said that the Congress-led UPA government was indulging in divisive politics. “The government of mother-son duo is baffled as it stares at defeat and is spreading lies against the state government,” he said. “Who divided Bharat Mata? Who is divisive? Who pitted one state against another on water claims? And you call us divisive? You are pitting CBI and IB and dividing the Indian Army on religious lines, and you doubt our patriotism? There are two governments – Indian government and Jammu & Kashmir government. Who has caused this divide?” he asked, rhetorically.
Modi also criticised Rahul Gandhi’s “poverty tourism,” and stated that the Congress-led UPA government has been milking “poor” for political gains. “Whenever election comes, Congress party starts chanting ‘poor, poor’” he said. “Rahul Gandhi regularly goes out on poverty tourism because he does not know what poverty is. He will go looking for the poor once in a year and will take the media along,” he said. “Rahul bhaiyya, for you poverty is tourism because you are born with silver spoon. I don’t need to know about poverty because I was born as poor, lived my initial life as a poor and have earned my living by selling tea.And you teach me a lesson on poverty?” Modi said.