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Modi launches frontal attack on Cong

india Updated: Dec 13, 2007 20:55 IST

IANS
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Bringing up the 1984 riots, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Sikh origin and the terror attack on parliament, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has launched an all out offensive against the Congress with only two days to go before round two of polling.

Unfazed by the Supreme Court issuing a contempt notice against him for raising the issue of Sohrabuddin Sheikh's staged killing by the police, the controversial Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader has taken on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Upping the ante in this election campaign fraught with tension over his communal utterances and the Congress' response to them, Modi launched a vitriolic speech against the Congress in Ahmedabad on Wednesday night.

Addressing a public meeting in Bapunagar in Ahmedabad, he played up to the gallery and said: "...the centre is the custodian of merchants of death. The government has failed to hang Mohammad Afzal, a convict in the parliament attack case of 2001. He has been convicted by the Supreme Court."

Referring to the prime minister's statements against the Gujarat government amid reports that the riot cases of 2002 would reopened if there was a change of power in Gujarat, Modi launched a personal attack on Manmohan Singh.

"You are a Sikh. Everybody knows that it was the Congress that was responsible for the killings of Sikhs in 1984. Why have the people responsible for those killings not been punished?" he asked.

Six year after the terror attack on parliament Wednesday, the BJP in the state brought out an advertisement on the failure of the central government to hang Afzal.

The second phase of the Gujarat elections is due on Sunday, and the results of the election that has essentially revolved around Modi are due a week later.

His speeches have been so self centred that he has at times not even acknowledged the presence of central leaders at his rallies. Even Rajnath Singh was confined to making a brief address to a restive crowd in Bapunagar.

RJ Sharma, an advocate who had come to listen to Modi, told IANS: "The more the media criticises him, the more the local public admires him. His popularity is soaring and issues like calling his government merchant of death has simply gone to his favour."

His entry at rallies like the one at Bapunagar have been grand accompanied by music and firecrackers, quite unmindful of the sharp rap by the Supreme Court earlier in the day.

A bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Dalveer Bhandari issued a contempt notice for allegedly justifying the police killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in November 2005.

Addressing an election rally at Mangrol in south Gujarat on Dec 4, he said Sohrabuddin had hoarded weapons and was planning terror attacks in Gujarat. He asked the crowd what should be done to an "anti-national and terrorist" like him and his supporters shouted back: "kill him".

Modi then said: "Should my police go to seek (Congress chief) Sonia Gandhi's permission for that?"

The Election Commission had sent him a notice on the same speech. The poll panel had also sent a notice to Sonia Gandhi for making a reference to "merchants of death" during a campaign speech in Gujarat.