Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Sunday hit back at Congress president Sonia Gandhi's 'zeher ki kheti' barb, saying it was the Congress that believed in divisive politics and was spewing up poison in the country.
Gujarat's chief minister and Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), addresses his party's supporters during a rally ahead of the 2014 general elections, in Mumbai. (Reuters)
Addressing a rally in Meerut in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Modi also came down heavily on the Uttar Pradesh government, blaming it for farmers' plight and deteriorating law and order in the state. He also termed the ruling Samajwadi Party, led by his political rival Mulayam Singh Yadav, 'samajvirodhi (anti-social) party'.
The Gujarat chief minister borrowed Sonia Gandhi's words to turn the tables on the Congress a day after she had accused Modi and the BJP of indulging in divisive politics by 'zeher ki kheti (sowing seeds of poison)'.
"Rahul Gandhi (Congress vice-president and Sonia Gandhi's son) had said that one day he went to his mother's room early in the morning during a party meeting in Jaipur," Modi pointed out.
"Her mother told him that power was poison."
"Then tell me, who has been in power (at the Centre) for the most part in the past 60 years?" Modi asked the huge gathering that attended the BJP's Vijay Shankhnaad rally.
Read: Sonia Gandhi hits BJP, Modi with 'zeher ki kheti' barb
Modi raked up the Telangana protests to support his claims, blaming the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) for sowing the 'seeds of poison' by adopting a 'divide and rule' policy.
He said when Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh were carved out of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, respectively, in 2000 during the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre, all the stakeholders were happy.
Citing the protests in Telangana and Seemandhra regions of Andhra Pradesh over the bifurcation of the state in the UPA regime, he added, "We succeeded to do that (division) peacefully because we believe in spreading love and affection. But the Congress has indulged in divisive politics."
Modi also took a dig at the Centre as well as Sonia Gandhi for the recent death of a 19-year-old student from Arunachal Pradesh in Delhi. The deceased, who was a Congress MLA's son, was allegedly thrashed by some shopkeepers. The incident triggered widespread protests in the Capital, with students from the Northeast crying racial discrimination against them.
The BJP's PM nominee also played on regional sentiments during the rally held on the outskirts of the western UP town. Stressing the achievements of his government in Gujarat, Modi dared the SP to compete against him on the development front.
He praised former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, a Jat leader from UP, and slammed the incumbent Akhilesh Yadav government for plight of the poor. "Have faith in the BJP to ensure food for the poor," he said.
Tight security was in place for Modi's rally in the western UP city in view of the Muzaffarnagar communal riots last year.
Talking about the 2002 riots in Gujarat, an issue used frequently by the BJP's opponents to attack Modi, he said the state had opted for the development path. He urged the gathering to express solidarity with the BJP to ensure a riot-free UP.