Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi on Monday pledged to cleanse the political system and rid Parliament of criminals, asserting he would not even spare errant leaders of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Addressing two back-to-back election rallies in Uttar Pradesh, Modi said he would seek details of parliamentarians with criminal background if a BJP-led NDA government was voted to power.
Modi added he would request the Supreme Court to open cases against them so that the guilty, cutting across party lines, could be sent behind the bars.
"Parliament se apraadhi saaf karne padenge… main aaya to inhe nahi chhodunga…chaahe BJP ya NDA ke kyun na hon (We need to rid Parliament of criminals… I won't let them off the hook if I'm elected to power… even if a member is from the BJP or the NDA)," an ANI tweet quoted him as saying at a rally in Hardoi.
Later, the Gujarat chief minister reiterated at a rally in Etah, "We must do away with criminalisation of politics, and delivering mere lectures won't help."
Modi's statement came around a month after a controversy over inducting Karnataka leader B Sreeramulu had gripped the BJP, with senior leader Sushma Swaraj voicing her resentment.
According to non-government agency ADR, Sreeramulu has eight cases against him. There are nine cases — including that of cheating and forgery— against former Karanataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa. Both are BJP candidates these elections.
During his whirlwind tour to UP, Modi also alleged the ruling SP, opposition Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress were responsible for the state's plight.
A day after Rahul Gandhi slammed him over development in Gujarat, Modi said the Congress vice-president was ignorant about poverty. "He doesn't know what poverty is… That is why he does poverty tourism."
On Sunday, Smriti Irani had accused Gandhi of inviting former British foreign secretary David Miliband to his constituency, Amethi, to exhibit poverty. Actor-turned-politician Irani is the BJP candidate for the seat.
Mocking Gandhi over his visits to the homes of the poor, Modi said, "People go… to see Taj Mahal, also click pictures and show them to relatives. Similarly, Rahul bhaiya goes to see poverty."
Taking on the Congress and the SP over dynastic politics and nepotism, Modi said, "While the country has been destroyed by the governments of mother and son (read Rahul and Sonia Gandhi), Uttar Pradesh has been destroyed by a father-son government (read SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav)."
He also fired a fresh salvo at Sonia's son-in-law, Robert Vadra, and BSP chief Mayawati.
Referring to his humble past, the BJP's PM nominee once again played the 'chaiwallh' card. "People are making fun of my childhood, my poverty. I am proud of the fact that I sold tea...at least I did not sell out the nation," he said.
(With Agency inputs)