Narendra Modi on Monday broke an unwritten code, that of staying off political rival's turf, by taking poll battle to Gandhi family's power seat Amethi and declaring he would begin building India from this constituency once in power.
In a speech laced with aggression and sarcasm, Modi called Amethi UP's "worst-performing district", challenged Rahul Gandhi and his "entire family" to a public debate with BJP candidate Smriti Irani, "exposed the family's politics of anger", and mocked political pundits and the media.
Modi kept the focus on Amethi's lack of development, despite its "40-year association with the rajparivar". He claimed that as a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, he had asked Irani to focus on the backward districts in the state, which she "went on to transform".
"I then decided to send her to the most backward district in UP, and discovered it was Amethi," Modi said.
Promising to transform the constituency in 60 months, Modi said this would become a case-study for global universities.
He also countered Rahul's claim that he was not able to do all he wanted because the state government was led by another party.
"This is a white lie. You have such a friendly state government that they don't put a candidate against you here. They have helped you so much that ma-beta (Sonia-Rahul) should thank the baap-beta (Mulayam-Akhilesh) sarkar," Modi said.
BJP PM nominee Narendra Modi addresses a public rally in Amethi. (ANI photo)
He challenged Rahul to show letters where he had asked for state government assistance, and criticised him for not raising Amethi's issues in Parliament in the past 10 years.
While Modi claimed he had come for politics of badlav (change), not politics of badla (revenge), the dominant thread of the speech was an effort to project the Gandhi family as royalty, disconnected from reality, as opposed to himself as a man of the masses.
Responding to Priyanka Gandhi's barb, "Smriti, who?", Modi said, "They ask who is Smriti Irani. I want to say Smriti Irani is my younger sister...Look at their arrogance."
"In a democracy, in public life, royal families cannot ask such questions. I don't have the right to ask even the smallest person who are you."
He then challenged Rahul and his "entire family" to a public debate with Irani, with both being asked the names of Amethi villages.
"If Irani will name 100 villages, they will not be able to name ten," he said.
Modi also alluded to Rahul's allegation that he practices the "politics of anger", and turned it back, "When Rajiv Gandhi was just a party general secretary, he went to Andhra Pradesh. The chief minister had come to receive him. And Rajiv Gandhi got so angry that the CM was reduced to tears. Who does politics of anger?"
BJP LS candidate Smriti Irani addresses a public rally in Amethi. (ANI photo)
Modi extended the argument and alleged that Sonia Gandhi's loyalists had thrown out Sitaram Kesri, then Congress president and man of "extreme backward castes like me from his office to the footpath".
"Like the British did not give land to bury Bahadur Shah Zafar in Delhi, Sonia did not allow PV Narasimha Rao to be cremated in Delhi. Who does politics of anger?"
He also cited Rahul Gandhi's tearing up of the ordinance on convicted MPs, even as the PM was travelling outside, as yet another instance of "their aggression".
He told the gathering that two things have emerged from the polls so far---first, the government of "mother-son duo is gone" and second, the voters "have laid foundation of the new government" he is confident would be ruled by him.