Amid voices of dissent within his own party over his ‘increasing domination’, BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi on Wednesday sought to continue to personalise the contest in the Lok Sabha polls by saying the fight is between a ‘shahzada (a term Modi uses for Congress vice-President Rahul Gandhi) and a tea seller (himself)’.
“On one side is a tea seller and on the other is a shahzada... now it is for you to decide who do you want to choose,” said Modi, while addressing an election rally in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandhshahr, about 500 km from here.
Notwithstanding the ‘discomfort’ among some senior BJP leaders, Modi sought to drive home the message this election is about ‘Modi versus others’. “Usually in any election, the opposition parties get together and strategise to defeat the ruling party... but in these elections for the first time different types of parties have been trying to strike a deal to defeat a tea seller from the opposition party,” he said.
“Kuch bhi ho jaye, Modi nahin jitana chahiye” (come what may, Modi must not win), the saffron leader said and wondered why were ‘they so afraid of Modi’.
“These leaders (his opponents), who have looted the country, know very well what their next address will be after May 16 (counting day),” he said, trying to imply that they will be sent to jail.
Modi formally kick-started his party's campaign in UP on Wednesday. He invoked the goddess ‘Vaishno Devi’. “This morning I felt that I should launch my campaign by paying obeisance at Vaishno Mata temple,” he said.
He referred to the problems being faced by sugarcane farmers of the region and slammed the Akhilesh Yadav government for its failure on the law and order front.
Modi also sought to woo Muslims by claiming that they were a lot better in Gujarat than in UP. “The employment rate among the Muslims in Gujarat is more than UP,” he claimed. He said his opponents ‘raked up secularism’ every time they were asked tough questions on governance.