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Battleground Amethi: Narendra Modi ups the ante; takes battle to Gandhi den
The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi took his Lok Sabha election campaign to the home turf of the Nehru-Gandhi family in Amethi Monday, attacking Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka and promising voters success where he said they had failed — turn Amethi into a model of development.
Responding to the barbs thrown at him by Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka in recent days during campaigning, Modi said that ensuring the victory of BJP candidate Smriti Irani — who he said was like his younger sister — was now a “question of his respect”.
Countering Priyanka’s remark that Modi does not understand the dignity of the post of prime minister and Rahul’s allegation that he indulges in the politics of anger, Modi cited examples of what he said were instances of the Gandhi family members, Rajiv onwards, engaging in the politics of anger and how Rahul had belittled Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by terming an ordinance cleared by the cabinet as “nonsense”.
“When the prime minister was out of the country, he tears apart a cabinet decision in anger and after calling it nonsense. Now who showed disrespect to the prime minister?” Modi asked during his 50-minute speech at a ground in the Gauriganj area of Amethi.
He also referred to the incident of Rajiv, who was a general secretary in the Congress when his mother Indira Gandhi was prime minister, scolded Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister T Anjaiah in public at an airport, reducing the senior leader to tears.
Targeting Sonia next, Modi alleged that she had not allowed the funeral of former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao to be held in Delhi “out of her anger”, just like the British colonial rulers refused to allow the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar to be buried in Delhi.
Former Congress president Sitaram Kesri, he alleged, was insulted and thrown out of the party office again because of Sonia’s anger.
Referring to Rahul as “Rahul bhaiya” and Sonia as “Sonia madam” through his speech, Modi repeatedly asked the crowd, “what kind of a family is this?” as he chose to focus on “family politics” and the “under-development of Amethi”.
Criticising Rahul and his frequent references to his family in his speeches, Modi asked if the country can be run by saying, “I am part of your family. You know my father”. He said “your MP…your Rahul bhaiya” did not ask a single question about Amethi in Parliament in the last 10 years.
He told voters that Amethi had blindly voted for the Gandhi family for the last 40 years but had not got even basic facilities such as roads, drinking water and electricity in return.
Countering the Congress claim that the party could not do much in Uttar Pradesh as it was not in control of the state government, Modi said they were “lies”.
“Politically I might be speaking against Mulayam but let my government come and I will bring development to Amethi in 60 months and I am sure that no one can refuse that. They lies when they say the state government did not let them work. How can they be believed when the same party did not even field a candidate against them here,” Modi asked.
On Priyanka criticising him for his remark, “Yeh dil mange more” (this heart asks for more), Modi said he would continue to use the line as he “asks the public and does not loot them”.
“They say I should stop saying ABCD but I tell them that I will start the ABCD of development from Amethi,” he said, adding that foreigners would visit Amethi to study its development model.
“I challenge you to stand beside my younger sister,” he said referring to Irani and addressing the Gandhi family. While she could name 100 villages in the constituency despite having been in Amethi for a short duration, the family together would not be able to name even 10 villages, he claimed.
Modi said Amethi had ruined the lives of three of its generations by voting for the Gandhis over the last 40 years but he had arrived to give new hope to the next generation. He also urged the Election Commission to ensure a “fair election” in Amethi alleging that Congress leaders would splurge money in the next 48 hours.