A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked all secular forces to unite against him,BJPs prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Wednesday said Singh was chanting the dialogue of the 80s,suggesting that the call would not find much support.
Addressing a youth conclave in the capital,Modi also made a fresh attempt to dispel apprehensions of the Muslims,saying he would abide by the constitution and arguing that a government has no religion.
Sharing the stage with TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu for the first time,Modi projected himself as leader with novel ideas and decision-making prowess in contrast to the indecisive UPA government. Naidu,on his part,called for the defeat of the Congress. Both the leaders sat through the eight-hour long event organised by NGO Citizens for Accountable Governance.
While Naidu refrained from indicating who his party would support,amid speculation that the TDP may join hands with the BJP,he claimed that the United Front government and the NDA government had done a very good job during their terms. Naidu began his address by stating that Modiji belongs to Gujarat,Gandhiji belongs to Gujarat.
Taking on the PM,Modi said,What the PM has said yesterday,I am surprised. It is the dialogue of the 80s. This is the 21st century. The nation wants development. The country wants to move forward and people want to build their future… Some people want to fool the people,but the people will see through it.
He added that for some people,secularism is a weapon to hoodwink the poor people. Modi,perhaps for the first time,argued that a government has no religion.
My definition of secularism is nation first,India first… Koi apna paraya nahin ho sakta. No votebank politics. Justice for all and appeasement of none. Poor are poor,whether they go to a mandir,masjid or gurudwara. They have no religion, he said.
In his hour-long speech,peppered with anecdotes aimed at projecting himself as a leader with innovative ideas and decision-making abilities,he also targeted the UPA government on the controversial ordinance on convicted lawmakers. I am amazed. The government in Delhi had no inkling about what the people of the country think. Otherwise,they would not have brought the ordinance, he said. Nobody will elect criminals as their leaders, he added.
Modi said although he has the image of a Hindutvavaadi,his real thought is pehle shauchyalaya,phir devalaya (first toilets,then temples). Given the image,it takes courage to think like that. That is the quality of leadership. You need courage. A real leader exhibits courage to handle problems and lead the way forward in times of challenges, he said.
Referring to the ordinance issue,Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley,who was also present at the function,said the Prime Minister is only a tool in the hands of Sonia Gandhi. Jaitley said India should have a political leader as PM. The PM,along with his entire cabinet,is overruled by somebody who is half his age, he said. A weak PM will be incapable of taking hard economic decisions. PMs are judged not by the number of years they remain in office,but the footprint they left behind, he added.