Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi slammed Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for insulting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh through his outbursts on an ordinance to shield convicted politicians.
Modi, at the same time, questioned Singh’s abilities with the quip, “The UPA is headed by a sardar but is not ‘asardar’ (effective).”
Referring to Rahul’s comments, Modi said the country cannot run on the whims of a crown prince (“shahzada”), setting the stage for a direct contest with the Congress vice-president in the 2014 general election. He said Rahul Gandhi’s comments raised serious questions on the decision-making authority of the Union Cabinet.
“I want to ask the prime minister, do you want to govern this nation as per the Constitution or as per the whims of a crown prince. The allies of the Congress will also have to come clean on this,” he said addressing a massive rally to launch the BJP campaign for the Delhi Assembly elections.
The rally—Modi’s first in the national capital as the party’s prime ministerial candidate—saw the Gujarat chief minister tearing into the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) as he noted the divergent views within the coalition on the controversial ordinance. He said there were “governments within the government” affecting the country’s overall development.
“Coalition governments are a work of arithmetic but it’s the chemistry that matters. A coalition government does not deliver if the chemistry among the allies does not work,” he said.
He contented that the UPA constituents appear to be close but not together. “Each partner chooses to walk his own path which is the reason why the country does not progress,” he said.
Modi also sought to indulge in some grandstanding by decrying Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif’s reported comment likening Singh to a rural woman (“dehati aurat”). “We may have our differences, we may fight here but our PM is the PM of 125 crore Indians,” he said. “Sharif, how dare you speak in this manner?”
He said Sharif compared the Indian prime minister with a rural woman because Singh’s own party had scant respect for him. “If you show scant respect for the prime minister, why would Sharif respect him,” Modi asked.
In his 70-minute speech, Modi reached out to his audience on several occasions, evoking a thunderous response peppered with chants of “Modi, Modi” by enthusiastic party workers.
Though the occasion for the a massive rally was to garner support for the BJP in the Delhi elections, it was clear that Modi had his eyes set on the Lok Sabha polls as he urged the voters to “trust the BJP”. “Have faith in my work. Neither Narendra Modi nor the BJP will ever break your trust,” he said.