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Modi campaign incomplete without Sonia

With the communal fever that swept Gujarat after Godhra waning, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who won the BJP the assembly elections with his majoritarian rhetoric has a new target ? Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
PTI | By Chandan Nandy, Vadodara
PUBLISHED ON APR 12, 2004 02:48 AM IST

With the communal fever that swept Gujarat after Godhra waning, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who won the BJP the assembly elections with his majoritarian rhetoric has a new target — Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

Modi's barbs against Sonia appear to have touched a new low in personal vilification. Referring to Sonia's "poor knowledge of geography", Modi said at a public rally in Jhagadiya in Bharuch constituency: "An officer was reading out to Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia the schedule of their visit to Anand dairy and Panchmahal. She interjected to tell Rajiv that she wanted to see the Taj Mahal first.'' This apparently went down well with his listeners, mostly illiterate tribals.

In Bhuj, Modi challenged the Congress chief to compete with him in singing the Vande Mataram. "I am sure she will not be able to sing the national song without the aid of her more Indian party colleagues,'' he said.

And then after Sonia had filed her nomination and declared her assets, he asked questions about how and why she continued to hold property in Italy. "How does she claim her love for India when she has property in Italy?'' he asks while speaking to rural voters.

The attack has been relentless. Sonia is described at as "jinxed" (for the Congress) and as a "cow" whose "calf" (Rahul) will contest the elections. And in fit of vituperation, Modi has also said: "Sonia is not fit to be a clerk and Rahul not worthy of being a truck driver."

The state Congress leadership's response to the Sonia-bashing has been weak. On Friday, Congress leader Amarsinh Chaudhary made a feeble protest. But that was all.

For the urban electorate, Modi has been more development-oriented — highlighting his "tireless" work towards making Gujarat the country's economic powerhouse.

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