Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Sunday hit back at the Congress high command for labelling corruption charges against the saffron party and said only a person like him was capable of fighting graft.
Modi said the Congress was the root cause of corruption in the country, a day after its vice-president Rahul Gandhi raked up alleged irregularities in Karnataka during the BS Yeddyurappa government's tenure.
Addressing a rally in Himachal Pradesh, the Gujarat chief minister, who was attacked by Gandhi for turning a blind eye to corruption in BJP-ruled states, asserted "only a person like me who does not have any family bond can fight it (corruption)".
Modi slammed Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, saying the latter had become 14 times richer since coming to power. Late last year, the BJP had charged Singh with taking bribe in exchange for giving undue advantages to a private power firm.
"If Congressmen aren't corrupt, why are they worried about bringing back the black money stashed abroad?... These people (Congressmen) have looted the poor and put money there," Modi said at the rally in Hamirpur district, 175 km from Shimla. An estimated one lakh people took part in the BJP campaign.
Exuding confidence about the National Democratic Alliance's (NDA's) victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Modi blamed the Centre for failing to usher in development in the Himalayan states, including Himachal Pradesh, which sends four members to Lok Sabha.
"What did not happen in these states for 60 years will happen in 60 months, I assure you. You will see the change."
He also raked up Congress president Sonia Gandhi's 'zeher ki kheti (sowing seeds of poison)' barb and the controversy over his humble past as a tea seller.
"The BJP believes in sowing love (pyar ki kheti)," Modi said, while taking a dig at the Congress for practising "divisive politics" and citing the protests in Andhra Pradesh over the proposal to bifurcate the state.
He also blamed the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre for failing to check price rise. "The government promised to reduce check price rise within 100 days. Have the high prices come down?"
Reaching out to ex-servicemen, a major vote bank in the Hamirpur parliamentary constituency, Modi said, "It's a land of warriors and martyrs. I welcome the ex-servicemen who joined the BJP. It's the party where there is no membership, but there is relationship."
(With IANS inputs)