Gujarat chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Friday accused the Congress-led UPA government of failure in boosting the ailing economy.
Taking an indirect swipe at Union finance minister P Chidambaram, he said "Today our rupee is in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). I don't know why Tamil people sent this person (P Chidambaram, who belongs to Tamil Nadu) to Delhi."
Attacking UPA government's foreign policy as "a mockery" and Delhi-centric, Modi advocated an assertive foreign policy that would also involve the states.
The present foreign policy was not a policy but "a mockery. This has to be changed. We have to take this job seriously," he said delivering the Nani Palkhivala Memorial Lecture in Chennai on the topic 'India and the World.'
Despite its vast size, the country could not influence other countries in the region since there was no seriousness and because of lack of politicial will, he alleged.
"India is not just Delhi. The foreign policy should be decided by the people and not by some politicians sitting in Delhi," he said.
"Isn't there a role for the states?" Modi said adding international conferences could be held in other cities, like it was during NDA rule when Pakistan's political leadership was hosted in Agra and Shimla for talks.
Modi's remarks on foreign policy assume significance as both political parties in Tamil Nadu and ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal have sought to impact on India's policies towards Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in recent years.
Hitting out at UPA's foreign ministers without naming them -- one, who read a speech of another country in the UN body and another who reportedly said he liked being in Beijing at the time of "Chinese aggression", he said "it would be great if they remain there (Beijing) only."
"We remained insensitive when we needed to be sensitive. We remained weak when we needed to be strong," he charged.
Criticising the Congress-led government for its handling of the case of Indian soldiers beheading, he said "a press note was considered enough. We need to change all that."
Observing that the foreign policy during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure as prime minister was strong, he referred to the Indian nuclear tests.
Modi said that even after countries imposed economic sanctions on India after the first nuclear test during NDA rule, Vajpayee went ahead with the second test two days later.
A foreign policy based on Indian culture and tradition would make 21st century a century of India, he said.
Contending that a strong economy was a driver of effective foreign policy, he accused the UPA government of 'mismanaging' economy.
He pitched for promoting tourism in a big way. "Terrorism divides, tourism unites," he said, adding India needed to improve its profile in the three trillion US dollar industry.
Emphasising on the need for developing institutions like ancient Nalanda and Taxila varsities, Modi said there was a need to develop soft power of the country, which was respected across the world.
A country needed to protect not only its citizens but also people of its roots in other countries, he said adding "they may have a passport of different colour but the colour of our blood is the same. We need to protect the people of Indian origins, including Tamils in Sri Lanka," he said referring to the emotive issue in the state.
The Gujarat chief minister also pressed for improving defence infrastructure and said that in modern warfare, there would be more cyber attacks.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI)