Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Sunday took potshots at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, saying people “immersed in corruption” had the audacity to give "sermons" on it.
“I heard the speech of a big Congress leader yesterday. He was speaking against corruption. See their audacity. No one else can dare do this. These people are so immersed in corruption."
The Gujarat chief minister did not name Gandhi during his first public rally in the country’s financial capital, but left little room for doubt that he was tearing into Gandhi’s speech to industry leaders at a Ficci conference on Saturday.
Gandhi had admitted corruption was “bleeding the nation dry”.
In his speech at the Bandra-Kurla Complex, Modi also brought up the Congress-led Maharashtra government’s rejection of a probe panel report into the Adarsh society scam and said the chief minister was protecting ex-CMs and ministers involved.
"On one hand, Maharashtra government decides to save the corrupt and on the other, a Congress leader is giving sermons in Delhi," he told the gathering, which the BJP put at more than half a million.
A wax statue of Modi was also unveiled at a city hotel. Around 10,000 tea vendors were invited to the rally as a response to a Samajwadi Party leader insulting Modi by saying that a tea vendor cannot become the Prime Minister.
Modi coined a new slogan — Vote for India. “I don’t believe in seeking votes for the party. I want you to vote for the country.”
Keeping Gandhi in his crosshairs, Modi dared the Congress leader to make a law to retrieve all black money from Swiss banks in three years. “But he will not do it because that will land own party colleagues in trouble. Making speeches is an easier job.”
Modi also said minorityism and communalism were Congress traditions. “This party has a tradition of dividing people on communal lines for vote bank politics. The PM had announced a special scheme for 90-Muslim dominated districts in the country, but later told Parliament not a single rupee was spent on this programme.”
He said, on the other hand, the BJP was committed to developing the country and gave examples of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. “I will not talk much about Gujarat because that induces pain in some people. I draw your attention to MP, which has made rapid strides in development under (chief minister) Shivraj Singh Chouhan.”
Modi asked the people to oust the Congress. “Before independence we asked the British to quit India from Mumbai’s August Kranti Maidan, and now, from this venue, we should ask Congress to quit. Congress-free India should be our sole aim.”
The Gujarat CM tried to bond with the state, and Mumbai in particular, recalling the days of unified Maharashtra.
“After our separation in 1960, Gujarat has made everything possible fighting against all odds, but Maharashtra has remained deficient on many accounts only because of the Congress’ policies and bad governance.”
Slamming the Maharashtra government, he asked, “Why are farmers in the state committing suicide?”
Earlier, BJP president Rajnath Singh slammed the Congress for rising prices and said there was a wave for change in the country.