Launching his campaign in western Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday, BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi accused the Congress of pursuing “hollow secularism that has ruined the lives of the Muslim youth”.
Speaking at a Bharat Vijay rally here, he said the vote bank politics of the Congress, SP and BSP was responsible for what he described as the country’s “pitiable condition”.
Clad in a saffron jacket, Modi said the UPA government had identified 90 Muslim-dominated districts across India, including Bulandshahr, three years ago to launch welfare schemes for the Muslims but failed to allocate funds for them. “They (the Congress) remember Muslims, secularism and the vote bank only at the time of elections,” he said. Modi, who arrived 90 minutes behind schedule, began his address with an apology, explaining that he was delayed at the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu where he had gone to offer prayers.
During his 30-minute speech, the largely rural gathering responded enthusiastically, calling him Tiger and PM-in-Waiting.
Modi said 2014 is not an ordinary general election. People are witnessing an unprecedented election season when all parties, including the Congress, SP, BSP, and RLD are “fighting one poor man — a tea vendor”, referring to himself. Raising the sensitive regional issue of payments due to sugarcane farmers, a major issue in western UP — he said those who sweetened the lives of others were now leading a bitter life themselves. This was in sharp contrast to Gujarat where farmers’ cooperatives decide the price of sugarcane, he said.