Launching the BJP's 2014 campaign in the south, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Sunday tore into the UPA on issues ranging from national security to food law even as he tried to win back the TDP and AIADMK.
Addressing his first meeting in southern India as the BJP's campaign chief, Modi urged the gathering of almost a lakh, most of them youth who paid Rs 5 each as entry fee, to rid the country of the Congress. It was the duty of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to ensure that it was done, said Modi, widely seen as the BJP's PM candidate for next year's elections.
The rally was being watched with interest as the UPA recently gave nod to the division of Andhra Pradesh to create a separate state of Telangana, with Hyderabad as the shared capital for 10 years. The split has divided the people, with those living in the Seema-Andhra opposing the new state.
Modi, who was cheered on as he opened his speech in Telugu, chose his words carefully. He referred to his visit as that to Hyderabad and not Andhra Pradesh. The BJP supported a separate Telangana, but people of Seema-Andhra were equally important to it, he said.
Taking on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the recent killing of five Indian soldiers in a cross-border raid by Pakistan, he said the UPA had failed to ensure national security.
"…You (PM) assured the nation that you will not tolerate such acts. But again last week's incidents at the LoC have shaken the nation and raised a question 'whom do we trust?"
Saying India needed to send a strong message to Pakistan, Modi accused the government of serving biryani to Pakistani officials in the name of protocol.
The time was ripe for a Congress-free nation, he said. Crediting TDP founder and former chief minister NT Rama Rao with bringing together parties with disparate ideologies to form non-Congress governments at the Centre, Modi said "it is the responsibility of the TDP to fulfil NTR's vision".
The TDP was part of the BJP-led NDA government and party chief Chandrababu Naidu, who is the son-in-law of NTR, was the coalition convener. The party walked out of the NDA in 2004.
Criticising the state government for failing to provide jobs, Modi heaped praise on neighbouring Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa for her youth-oriented job schemes. Jayalalithaa's AIADMK was part of the NDA in 1998.
There would have been no need for a food security law, had the Congress followed the welfare measures taken by the Vajpayee government, said Modi.
He hailed the public distribution system put in place by the Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh and praised Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Singh Chouhan, seen by many as a rival, for welfare schemes for girls.
The money collected as entry fee would be donated to flood-ravaged Uttarakhand.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM MODI SPEECH
* I praise Andhra Pradesh's youth for paying Rs 5 to attend my rally. The money collected will go for Uttarakhand relief work: Modi
* Every government should have just one religion - India First: Modi
* During Independence, the value of rupee was similar to that of dollar. Now, age of India's finance minister is equal to the value of dollar: Modi
* We should do all we can towards a Congress-free India: Modi
* Govt has only one dharma that is the Constitution of India. It has only one power that is people power: Modi
* Narendra Modi praises Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Chouhan's schemes for the girl child in MP, Raman Singh’s PDS schemes in Chhattishgarh
* Youth, citizens of India are worried about the country: Modi
* The NDA government has done important work on skill development for youngsters: Modi
* A person of Advaniji's stature asked black money be brought back but why did Delhi say no? Whose black money is this? Modi
* What problems the govt has in getting black money back? whose money is this that is lying in foreign banks? Modi
* Aaj khaane ko roti nahii, rehne ko ghar nahi, pehne ko kapda nahi, bimaar ko davaii nahi: Modi about India under Congress rule
* Need for a complicated Food Security program because Congress has created a food scarcity in the country, didn't need during Vajpayee tenure: Modi
* We have 6 lakh Telugu people in Gujarat. If we can live peacefully, then Telangana-Andhra people can also live amicably: Modi
* Modi accuses Congress of creating a wedge between people of Telangana and Seemandhra regions.
* I hope Andhra Pradesh develops more than Gujarat: Modi
* Today, there are hardly any doctors in our villages, not enough medical colleges: Modi
An air of Congress Mukt Bharat is evident! Youth, Farmers & Poor are determined towards it. Yes We Can,Yes We Will Do http://t.co/eJEFwMa2yc— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 11, 2013
* UPA govt is struggling to find a way to distribute foodgrains to poor, they should take a cue from the Chhattisgarh chief minister: Modi
* UPA government cannot provide security to nation, it is neck deep in vote-bank politics: Modi
* Corruption has ruined the nation. There is nothing left in the country where Congress has not been involved in corruption: Modi
* The Congress has not succeeded in doing anything: Modi
* Can we have a protocol with those who kill our soldiers, asks Modi.
* Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi questions UPA government's Pakistan policy in the wake of the LoC attack in which 5 jawans were killed.
* When Pakistan beheaded 5 soldiers, the PM said a repeat won't be allowed. I ask the PM what now: Modi
* The J-K govt wants to hide what's happening in Kishtwar: Modi
* Kishtwar is burning. BJP leader Arun Jaitley was detained when he wanted to visit Kishtwar: Modi
Modi, at various platforms earlier, had promised a separate state for Telangana in 48 hours if the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance came to power.
Observers feel the rally is significant in the light of the UPA government's decision to carve Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh. The issue has caused quite a storm at the ongoing monsoon season in Parliament and even within the Congress party a faction still differs on the decision and has threatened with resignations.
However, the issue is poll-relevant for the BJP as it had been supporting the formation of the new state out of Andhra Pradesh for long.
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