Gujarat election 2017 - Modi kicks off campaign with nationalist rhetoric

Virendra Pandit Rutam Vora Bhuj | Updated on January 27, 2018

Accuses Cong of being corrupt, anti-Gujarat; Says party using falsehood to win elections

Terming the 2017 Gujarat elections a battle between vikas (development) and vanshvad (dynasticism), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday accused the Congress of parading falsehoods to win the Assembly elections.

“Gujarat has lived peacefully for 22 years under the BJP rule; unlike in the past when curfew was order of the day in the State,” Modi said, exuding confidence that the party would win more than 150 seats.

Polling for the 182 constituencies will take place in two phases, on December 9 and 14, and results will be declared on December 18. Monday was the last day of filing of nominations for the second phase.

Attacks Manmohan

The PM accused his predecessor Manmohan Singh of “falsehood”, commenting on the Congress leader’s recent statement that Modi, as Gujarat CM, had never raised the Narmada issue with the then UPA government. The Congress has tried to colour the Gujarat polls with “irresponsible” campaigning, he said.

Unveiling his campaign, called ‘Gujarat Vikas Rally’, Modi raised a strong nationalist pitch, questioning the credentials of Rahul Gandhi (without naming him), and wondering why the Congress Vice-President was seen hugging the Chinese Ambassador during Army’s 70-day stand-off with Sino troops at Doklam. The PM was responding to Rahul’s recent jibe that the PM’s ‘hugging diplomacy’ with Pakistani leaders had not worked.

Nationalism pitch

Trying to strike an emotional connect with the people, Modi also accused the Congress of ‘celebrating’ the release of 26/11 terrorist attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan, and slammed the opposition party for questioning the Army’s surgical strikes. “They have politicised even our Army’s achievements…Why can’t they just shut their mouth, if they can’t at least respect our soldiers and their sacrifice,” he said to cheers from the crowd.

Coming down heavily on the Congress’ claims on development, he asked the Grand Old Party (GOP) why does not it declare that it has fully developed India and no development was needed now. “Actually, it despises the rise of a tea-vendor to India’s Prime Ministership. Have you inherited the Delhi gaddi (throne)? Is the gaddi reserved only for your family?”

“I would rather sell tea than sell the country,” he declared, responding to a recent tweet by a Youth Congress magazine ridiculing his humble origins. “Those who denounced the Gujaratis as asses are now touching their feet!”

Modi condemned the Congress’ claims on demonetisation, and likened it to someone mourning the death of an earning member. “Those who destroyed and looted the country are still crying, even after a year, as if they lost everything.” There has been no noise from the three-lakh bogus companies that have been served closure notice, or the 18 lakh people the government identified as involved in corrupt practices, the PM said.

The Prime Minister said that despite the Congress’ arrogance peaking, the party is scared of its defeat. It is an outfit known only for a family, its various scams, its greed and corruption. “Even Rajiv Gandhi said that only 15 paise reached the people out of every rupee the government spent. But he did nothing to stop this leakage. Where did all this money go?” Modi asked, responding to Rahul Gandhi’s charge that demonetisation was meant to turn black money into white. “India has suffered the Congress’ sins for 70 years. Its time for the Gujaratis to punish that party in December.”

‘Congress is anti-Patel’

Playing victim, Modi said he has had an “unblemished, spotless” record in public life, and “you level baseless charges against me”. Accusing the Congress of harbouring a hatred for Gujarat, he said: “You have been anti-Gujarat since the days of Sardar Patel. The Iron Man’s daughter Maniben’s diary reveals how the Congress did injustice to him. They could not digest Morarji Desai. How can they now digest Narendra Modi? You organised the killings of the Mahagujarat Andolan activists. You have been anti-Patidar and worked against all four Patel chief ministers — Babubhai, Chimanbhai, Keshubhai and Anandiben.”

Modi said PM Jawaharlal Nehru had visited Kutch after the 1956 earthquake at Anjar, but nothing had come of it. Contrast this, he said, with the development that took place in the district after the 2001 earthquake. “People come here from other States for jobs and as tourists. And India’s 35 per cent overseas business passes through the Kandla and Mundra ports in Kutch.”

Published on November 27, 2017

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