Launching his campaign to return to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday asked the country to choose as its next “pradhan sevak” either an honest and a hardworking man or those who are on vacation when needed at home and are corrupt.
In the concluding address at the BJP national convention, Modi was unsparing in attacking
his rivals, especially the Congress, saying they are joining hands as they want a “majboor” (helpless) government to do corruption while people want a “majboot” (strong) government that the only BJP can give.
He ridiculed the likely grand alliance of opposition parties as a “failed experiment in Indian politics”, saying a campaign to give publicity to this idea is on.
The fear of “chowkidar” (watchman), a reference like ‘pradhan sevak’ he often uses to describe himself, and his campaign against black money and corruption have led to a churn in politics, he said.
Rivals are uniting against one person, he said.
Modi’s remarks came on a day the Samajwadi Party and the BSP, bitter rivals for over two decades, announced in Lucknow their alliance for the Lok Sabha elections against the saffron party.
In his over 80-minute-long speech, the prime minister spoke at length about his development agenda, made a brief mention of the Ram temple issue blaming the Congress for delaying its resolution and projected his rivals as “corrupt” against his government’s “spotless” record in office.
He claimed that for the first time in the country’s history, there has not been any charge of corruption against a government.
This is now for the country to decide what kind of “pradhan sevak” (main servant) it wants, he said.
Will the people like a servant who puts one member of the family against another, who steals household goods and distribute them among his relatives, tells neighbours about the internal matters, he asked.
“Will anybody want a servant that who is on vacation when needed at home? And nobody knows where he is,” he continued.
The BJP has often taken digs at Rahul Gandhi over his vacations abroad. The prime minister, though, did not name anybody.
Modi then made a pitch for himself, presenting himself as someone who works hard day and night, is concerned about the future generation, sticks to honesty and keeps everyone united.
“The county will decide what kind of servant it wants,” he said, drawing loud cheers from thousands of BJP members. Party leaders have described this as one of its biggest conventions.
He also cautioned the BJP against any complacency, saying it is said at times that “Modi will come and deliver victory” and asked its workers to campaign like farmers work at their land.
Seeds may be good, rains may arrive and everything else may be supportive but crop would not be good if farmers do not till the land, he said, adding that the party reached where it is due to “collective leadership”.
Targeting the Congress over corruption, he referred to the National Herald case in which Rahul and his mother Sonia Gandhi are on bail and accused them of “grabbing land and people’s money”.
The opposition party believes in protecting its “sultanate” at any cost and its “first family” has no respect for the country’s institutions, he said, claiming that the BJP believes in the Constitution.
In this context, he hit out at the Congress over the decision of its governments in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to withdraw the general consent given to the CBI for probing cases in their state, asking what irregularities they have done that they fear it.
He said when he was Gujarat chief minister for 12 years, the UPA government used all institutions with an aim to put him in jail, adding that they sent BJP president Amit Shah, who was then a minister in the state government, behind bars.
He still presented himself before a district level police official for questioning for nine hours because he had faith in law and considered it above him, Modi asserted, apparently referring to cases of riots and alleged fake encounters.
“Despite being harassed by the UPA for years, I didn’t ban entry of CBI in state… We believed in law. We had faith in truth,” he said, targeting the Congress for its “attack” on institutions like the CBI, the CAG and the Election Commission.
“These leaders on bail have no trust either in law or in truth… Can they (Congress) be trusted with power,” he asked and also blamed it for crisis in banks, saying that there was “common process” and “Congress process” of loans when it was in power.
While the common process was for the common man, the “Congress process” was used by “scamsters” closed to its leadership to swindle public money from banks, Modi said.
In an apparent reference to Rahul Gandhi and his charge of corruption against him over the Rafale issue, he said one cannot make somebody understand a point if he deliberately does not want to understand it.
The prime minister said he was being “abused” after an accused in a defence deal- a reference to Christian Michel- was brought to India from abroad for the first time.
He said he would not claim that his government achieved everything but it has made honest efforts to work for all sections of society.
The prime minister said 10-per cent reservation in education and government jobs for the general category poor will enhance the confidence of ‘New India’. PTI