It’s been a hectic week for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, taking on Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi one day, reaching out to women-entrepreneurs the next or talking to the people via a TV channel.

Tuesday found him in Kolkata, making common cause with his Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee against the Centre for what he called its “discrimination” against non-Congress States.

Claiming that injustice was being done, Modi accused the UPA-II of “shattering dreams of many States like Bengal”.

Mamata Banerjee has charged the Centre with an economic blockade of Bengal.

Expressing confidence in her government’s efforts to set right the “ruin” of the Left Front government, Modi, in further show of support, avoided comparing Bengal with Gujarat. Such a comparison has been anathema for Banerjee who has repeatedly been criticised for her failure to draw investors. “The media only wants Modi to talk on one aspect… I have not come here for this (criticising the State). I do that only during elections,” Modi said, speaking at a seminar organised by three city-based chambers of commerce.

“Defying the Constitution, the UPA government is discriminating between States run by non-UPA parties and its coalition partners. People have elected them (the UPA) but that does not mean they have the power to discriminate,” Modi said.

Communist Rule

Modi attacked the Left Front, blaming it for the poor condition of Bengal. According to him, people in Gujarat have more strength to withstand such “discrimination” (by the Centre); but for 34 years people of Bengal have suffered so much that their strength to withstand it is now very low. Driving home his point, he said the State had been “potholed” under three decades of Communist rule.

Modi said it took him 10 years to “fill the potholes” left by the previous Congress Government in his State, and it will not be possible to change things in Bengal within two years.

“I am confident about the efforts being made now to fill up the potholes. The dreams of the people of Bengal will be fulfilled,” he said in implicit praise of Banerjee.

abhishek.l@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on April 9, 2013)
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