Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Monday accused the Centre of poor governance and bias against non-Congress states while offering views, and sometimes solutions, on a range of issues on a busy day in the Capital.
Gurarat CM Narendra Modi after addressing the 29th Annual Session of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) on the theme “Unleash the Entrepreneur Within: Exploring New Avenues” in New Delhi. (Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times)
Lack of trust in governance posed a threat to the country, the Gujarat strongman, widely seen as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for the for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, said while making a case for decentralisation of power.
“The common man does not have faith in the government. There is no government, there is no governance,” Modi said at a CNN-IBN event. The CM, recently promoted to the BJP’s decision-making body, took up a host of national issues, which many saw as a sales pitch for a bigger role in Delhi.
Calling for skill development for youth, Modi said India’s democracy and its young population were its strengths vis-à-vis China.
Talking about economic policies, Modi reiterated his party’s opposition to FDI in retail but said he supported foreign direct investment in various other sectors. He even had his take on the foreign policy. The CM suggested that the ministry of external affairs be split, with a wing only handling ties with the neighbouring countries.
Accusing Centre of being partisan, he said, “When funds are to be disbursed to states, they (the Centre) see the gotra (clan) of the state government. Here, the problems begin.”
“Once the Planning Commission earmarked Rs. 200-crore for saving the tiger. I asked them: Is tiger secular and lion communal?... The Planning Commission agreed with me and wrote to the government, but nothing happened.” Gir in Gujarat is home to the Asiatic lion.
Gujarat CM Narendra Modi addresses a gathering of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry Ladies Organization (FLO) during its 29th annual session in New Delhi. (AP Photo)
Gujarat remained his reference point when earlier in the day he addressed the annual general meeting of the Ficci Ladies Organisation. Hailing the entrepreneurial spirit of women, Modi, however, didn’t miss a chance to take potshots at Rahul Gandhi’s famous Kalawati speech.
“In Ahmedabad, a woman Jasubhen’s pizza became more popular than Pizza Hut,” he said. “Now media will go to Ahmedabad to check whether or not this is another Kalawati-type story. Let me tell you: Jasubhen died five years back. Yet, her pizzas capture a huge market.”
He hit out at the Congress while talking about Gujarat’s growth story. He had just filled the potholes created by Congress in the state and a smooth surface was ready for a grand Gujarat, he said.
Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, Kavitha Varadaraj, president, FICCI Ladies Organisation (L) and Naina Lal Kidwai, president FICCI (extreme R) at the 29th session of FICCI Ladies Organisation in New Delhi. UNI PHOTO
“Somebody will have to surely fill up the deep chasm, he has created,” Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi retorted, alluding to the 2002 riots.
Modi, who has had various run-ins with the governor, criticised Kamla Beniwal for blocking a bill extending 50% quotas to women in local bodies.
Observers were quick to compare the speech with the one Rahul Gandhi gave at the CII on April 4, saying while Gandhi was more informal and broad-based, Modi was more structured and focused on the topic assigned.