Congress changes track to attack Modi
Tharoor said khaki shorts were 'inspired by Italian fascists'
The Congress appears to have changed its strategy in dealing with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. It came out all guns blazing against the BJP leader and asked him to put Gujarat in order before lecturing the UPA on its shortcomings.
Shedding its cautious approach, the Congress chose to respond to Modi’s attack on it in equal measure, saying a “burqa” of secularism was better that “naked communalism”.
Minister of State for HRD Shashi Tharoor said that the khaki shorts of the RSS were “inspired by the Italian fascists of 1920s”. “Communalism breaks the nation, while secularism binds the nation,” said an aggressive Ajay Maken, Chairman of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Communication Department, while addressing a press conference.
Modi on Sunday charged the Congress with wearing a “burqa (veil) of secularism” and “hiding in a bunker” to cover up its failures.
Maken ferreted out statistics to counter Modi’s attack on the UPA’s alleged non-performance in sectors like education, sports and tourism. He accused the BJP leader of presenting “erroneous” and “false” figures.
“I would ask Modi how many youngsters from Gujarat have qualified for Olympics. Modi has been Chief Minister of Gujarat for 11 years. What has he done for sports in Gujarat? There are a lot of sport enthusiasts in Gujarat, but not many sportsmen,” said Maken.
He also countered Modi’s claim of low spending on education by the Centre. The NDA had spent 1.67 per cent of the GDP on education while the UPA has spent 4.02 per cent of the GDP, said Maken, adding that the number of Central universities has also gone up from 17 in 2003-04 to 44 this year.
Tharoor countered Modi’s claim of China’s expenditure on education. “Modi claims China spends 20 per cent of its GDP on education. Reality from Xinhua, China's official news agency: 3.93 per cent,” said Tharoor on Twitter.
“Modi says we ‘hide behind the burqa of secularism’. Preferable, surely, to the khaki shorts of intolerance & hatred that he now tries to hide?” he said. Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said the choice before the people was an inclusive India or an India which is sectarian. “The vision of the Congress party is pluralistic and inclusive. And the vision of a section of the opposition has been sectarian, majoritarian and communal, right from the beginning,” he said AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmad was the first to fire a salvo at Modi on Sunday night. “We will respond if the chairman of the campaign committee of the BJP resorts to a disinformation campaign and makes factually incorrect statements,” said Maken.