Ahmedabad: Escalating the war of words over Narendra Modi's humble background as a 'chaiwala', Congress on Saturday said BJP's PM candidate, who often flaunts his past to connect with voters, was never a tea vendor but a 'canteen contractor'.
Senior leader and Congress president Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel also termed Modi's much-hyped campaign 'chai Pe Charcha' as a poll gimmick.
"This chai pe charcha is natak (gimmick) keeping in mind the elections. Tea seller associations have told us that he was never a tea-vendor but he was a canteen contractor", Patel said without naming Modi. He was speaking at 'Swaraj Kuch' rally here where noted civil rights activist Lalji Desai, along with hundreds of his Maldhari community followers, joined Congress.
Accusing Modi of trying to appropriate the legacy of Sardar Patel, the Congress leader said "by making the tallest statue of Patel, he wants to make a ladder for the PM's chair".
Patel also took potshots at Modi's Gujarat model of development. "This cannot be Gujarat's model. Gujarat's model is based on Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel's ideology. Some people accidentally got power and then forgot the ideology of great leaders like Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Ambedkar.
"But when election comes, they begin chanting their (leaders') names. He suddenly transforms himself into a tea-vendor or a Ram Bhakt only when the elections are coming," Patel said.
Taking a dig at Modi's claims of development, Patel said Gujarat was a laggard in social sectors.
"Gujarat is lagging behind in health, education and other social sectors. As per his propaganda, Gujarat is number one, but from the bottom. Gujarat is on 28th rank as far as primary education is concerned."
"Unemployment rate is increasing, five lakh young people are serving the state on a meagre fixed salary. For showing the surplus in the state's budget, Gujarat government keeps taking debts and now the debt amount has reached up to Rs 1.85 lakh crores," Patel said.
He also appealed to all marginalised communities to unite and raise their issues.
"This will strengthen Congress and also those on margins who have been deprived of their rights under BJP rule", Patel said.
Modi has made senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's jibe at his humble origin, when he sold tea with his father, a political weapon to hit out at Congress while connecting with the masses. In the first session of the 'Chai pe Charcha with NaMo' (tea with Modi) initiative on Wednesday, Modi attacked Congress over governance and black money stashed in various bank accounts abroad.
The Leader of Opposition in Gujarat assembly Shankarsinh Vaghela raked up the 2002 communal riots under Modi's guard to target him.
"He is now demanding 60 months against Congress' government's 60 years. People have not forgotten those 100 days when the massacre was done under his nose as the chief minister," he added.
State unit Congress president Arjun Modhvadia said the controversial godman Asaram was once the 'mentor' of Modi.
Desai, who joined Congress on Saturday, has initiated a movement against declaring Bechraji and Dholera as the Special Investment Region (SIR). He had earlier been detained by state police for allegedly instigating farmers to protest against the SIR.
Next: Modi should talk about his original ideas, not copy us: Kapil Sibal
Modi should talk about his original ideas, not copy us: Kapil Sibal
New Delhi: Taking a dig at Narendra Modi, Telecom and IT Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday said the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate should come up with his original ideas and stop copying those of the UPA government.
"He (Modi) is not aware of national issues. We sometimes expect to hear his original ideas but it has never happened till date. He should stop copying what we have done," he told PTI on the sidelines of an event organised by Dabur.
Sibal, a senior Congress leader, was reacting to Modi's speech at a NASSCOM summit yesterday raising the issue of the need to cut electronic product imports and boost hardware manufacturing.
"The government has already put in place policies to boost manufacturing, setting up electronic clusters and making India self-reliant by manufacturing chips in India. If he were better informed, we could have a more constructive public dialogue," said Sibal.
Modi says that he will bring bullet trains when Gujarat has neither metro nor mono-rail till date, he added.
The government has put in place the first-ever National Policy of Electronics in 2013, part of which was announced in 2012 In July 2012, the government announced Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMCs) scheme under which it aims to set up 200 clusters or special zones which will house the full eco-system required for developing electronic products.
In the same month, the government had announced Modified Special Incentive Package which allows up to Rs 10,000 crore in benefits under the 12th Five Year Plan ending 2017. The Cabinet earlier this week approved setting up the first two electronic chip plants in the country that will entail a total investment of Rs 63,412 crore.
Semiconductor is the main hardware component that is key to the functioning of devices such as mobiles and computers as well as hi-tech defence equipment. India imports more than 90 per cent of consumer electronic products and if the trend continues, these imports are projected to grow to USD 300 billion by 2020. These imports stood at USD 7 billion last year....