Continuing his attack on the Congress-led UPA government while projecting himself as a better alternative, Narendra Modi on Sunday targeted its big-ticket food security law and accused it of hiding behind a "burqa (veil) of secularism".
Addressing students of Fergusson College, the Gujarat chief minister gave a clear indication that he was in the race for prime ministership: "There is a difference between others and us. Others are interested in power, my priority is empowering the nation."
On the other side of the coin, he said, was the UPA government that "believes if there is a certificate in your hand, there is everything. Just like it believes that every poor person will have food on his plate once the food security bill is passed".
Later, at a public rally - his first in Maharashtra after being made the BJP's campaign chief for Elections 2014 - he said the Congress had a habit of "hiding in a bunker" whenever it was in crisis or failed to fulfill its promises.
"The family-oriented politics of the Congress is the root of all problems in the country," he said.
"The Congress president must explain to the people why poverty was not eliminated. What is this ego that is preventing the Congress leadership from open-mindedly confessing its failures."
Calling Rahul Gandhi "shahzada (prince)", Modi said,"He stays in the hut of a poor person to show what his ancestors had done."
The CM did not spare Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying "arthshastri (economist)" had become "anarth-shastri".
He also accused the Congress of misusing the CBI to protect its own and finish off its opponents. Comparisons to China and South Korea in the education and sports sectors came next.
"A small country like South Korea positioned itself as a world power by successfully conducting the Olympics. India, a country of 120 crore, made a mess of the Commonwealth Games," he said.
"China prioritised education in its budget. In India, we dream of 7% of our budget for education but are stuck at 4%," he added.
Switching easily from seasoned politician to tech-savvy leader, Modi told the students his speech was actually prepared by those who wrote to him on social media and he was only lending his voice to it.
"I don't want to score political points from this forum but would like to ask you whether your years of aspirations have been fulfilled."
Madhura Joshi, a second-year student, said: "It's good that Modi focused his speech on youth as 65% of the country's population is below 35 years."
Highlights of Modi's speech at BJP's rally in Pune
|# Congress cannot hide in the garb of secularism|
# Congress, be warned. The youth of the nation understands what you've done. They will never forgive you
# Govt believes in vote-bank politics
# We don't need so many acts, we need action
# There are crores of rupees stashed in Swiss Bank. Now waiting for PMO to clarify the exact amount
# Congress had promised to bring down inflation in 100 days but that didn't happen. Inflation actually increased
# Govt went for food ordinance, because #Congress does not trust its allies
# The govt brought ordinance on food security so UPA partners can't take credit
# Congress has failed on all fronts. It must answer for its failures
# When India achieved Independence, 1 Indian #rupee was equivalent to 1 US dollar. Today, the rupee is on a free fall.
# India's PM is an economist yet the country's economy is in such a bad condition.
# Rupee is weakening because of corruption in Delhi
# Till we get rid of Congress, we won't be able to get rid of our problems
# We achieved self-governance but people of the country need good governance
# People of India have been taken for granted by the Congress
# If we don't get rid of Congress party, this country's problems will never be solved
# Govt is using CBI to eliminate its detractors
# Whenever the Congress government faces problems, they hide behind the veil of secularism
# Why is the government silent on terror attacks?