A fortnight after the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power in Delhi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Sunday betrayed unease over its attempt to spread wings outside Delhi in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls by sparing a part of his usual anti-Congress tirade to slam the new party’s attempt to emerge as a national alternative.
While he did not name either Kejriwal or AAP in his address at a public rally here, Modi attacked the new party for questioning the BJP’s credentials and said that it did not have experience and vision to run the country. He virtually accused the media of exaggerating the AAP’s credentials and not looking beyond Delhi.
Modi gave the examples of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar — as well as his own humble origins — to take a dig at Kejriwal and projected the AAP as a shield for the Congress. “There are some who are questioning the BJP’s credentials. The Congress’s protector is questioning us,” he said.
“BJP’s first PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, despite his long political career, does not own a house of his own. Still our credentials are being questioned, false allegations are being levelled? All BJP workers have been working honestly for the people of this country and will continue to work honestly,” Modi said to counter the AAP’s attempt to project itself as an honest party.
In fact, he began his speech praising the “simplicity, honesty and commitment” of Parrikar to underline how the BJP always promoted such people. “One should know the honesty and simplicity of the chief minister here. Had Manohar Parrikar been in Delhi, the entire country would have known about this educated person who has remained so simple. Unfortunately, he is in Goa. The media cannot look beyond Delhi. There are many such gems across the country,” Modi said. BJP chief Rajnath Singh too praised Parrikar.
Dismissing the AAP’s projection in the media, Modi said, “The country has to decide whether what looks on the TV are for their good or the visions that has been delivered on ground is for their good.”
He said he remained unfazed by the media projection of AAP and expressed confidence that he will emerge the winner. “I have always lost on TV screens and newspapers, but I have never lost in the hearts of people,” he said.
The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate then returned to his tirade against the Congress, targeting former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in particular. “Files (for clearances) used to be held back for money in the Environment Ministry. Then, for the first time we heard, there was something called ‘Jayanthi Tax’ in Delhi. Files in the Environment Ministry would not budge unless ‘Jayanthi Tax’ was paid,” Modi said, accusing the former minister of rent-seeking for environmental clearances to projects. “An economy need infrastructure, human resource and raw materials to sustain. If raw materials remain locked and Delhi keeps mum, who will save Goa from ruins.”
“It is only a matter of few months for those who have suffered. We will protect the environment and also bring transparency in mining to help develop mining,” Modi promised Goa, which according to Parrikar has lost about 25 per cent of the state’s revenue for curbs on mining.
He attacked Shinde for “vote-bank politics”, referring to his remarks that he had written to the CMs to form panels to review terror cases involving Muslim youths. “Shouldn’t each criminal be treated on a par? But look at the audacity of the Home Minister. For vote-bank politics, he has written (to CMs) cautioning against arrest of Muslims. All innocent, irrespective of religion, should get justice.”
“Law and order is a state subject and you (Shinde) have no right to give a sermon to states on this count,” Modi said. He swore to strengthen federalism and institutions while accusing the Congress of encroaching upon both. He also backed Parrikar’s demand for “special status” to Goa.
Personal attack, says Jayanthi
New Delhi: Hitting back at Narendra Modi, former union minister Jayanthi Natarajan on Sunday said she was targeted since as the environment minister she had stoutly opposed destruction of environment in BJP-ruled Gujarat. “It is a targeted personal attack. I totally deny what he says. It is completely baseless. There are major green violations in Gujarat. He was destroying the environment. I was opposed to his destruction of environment,” she said. “He is only trying to intimidate me into silence and stop attacking him. But I cannot be and will not be intimidated.”
AAP chief said corruption was a top issue and the fight against Bedi was not against an individual.