Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, waves from a truck as he campaigns for the Gujarat state elections in Ahmedabad, India, Thursday, Dec.1, 2022. (Photo: AP)
AHMEDABAD: In a whirlwind campaign tour in his home state Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday took part in a more than 30-km-long roadshow here and addressed three rallies while asking people to teach a lesson to the Congress in the Assembly elections following its "Ravan" jibe for him.
Addressing a rally at Kalol in Panchmahal district, Modi said he respected Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, but it was the opposition party's "high command" which compelled Kharge to use such jibes.
Voting for the first phase of Gujarat Assembly elections in 89 seats was held on Thursday, while that in the remaining 93 seats including 16 of Ahmedabad city will take place on December 5.
Kharge, at a rally in Ahmedabad city on Monday, had said the prime minister asks people to vote "looking at his face" in all elections. "Are you 100-headed like Ravan," he had said. On Thursday, Modi said, "I respect Kharge ji, but he has to follow orders of the party high command. He was compelled to say that Modi has 100 heads like (demon king) Ravan." "But the Congress did not realise that Gujarat is the land of Ram Bhakts. Those who never believed in the existence of Lord Ram, have now brought in Ravan from Ramayana just to abuse me," the PM said.
Congress leaders never apologise over such insults but think it is their right to use abusive language for the country's prime minister, he added. "For them, that family is everything. They will do anything to make the family happy. There is a competition among Congress leaders as to who will use the most abusive and most toxic slurs for Modi," he said, apparently referring to the Gandhi family.
"There is only one way to teach them a lesson. Vote for the BJP on December 5 by pushing a button near lotus," Modi said.
At a rally at Bodeli town in Chhota Udepur district, the PM said despite the Congress' 'Garibi Hatao' slogan, poverty actually increased under its rule. "For decades, Congress has been saying only one thing - Garibi Hatao (eliminate poverty)...The only thing they did was to raise slogans, make promises and misguide people. That was the reason why poverty actually increased during its regime," Modi said.
The poor, tribals and Other Backward Class (OBC) communities were not given priority in education, health and industrial sector by Congress governments, he said. The opposition party also did not support a tribal woman becoming the country's President, and hence it fielded a candidate against Droupadi Murmu in the presidential election earlier this year, Modi claimed.
Speaking at his last rally in Himmatnagar town in Sabarkantha district, he asked people not to repeat the "mistake" committed after Independence. "This election is not just about forming a government here for five years. The country has completed 75 years of Independence. You must keep in mind where India will be 25 years from now. This election is all about making a government which would strengthen the foundation of the country for the next 25 years," Modi said.
"Everyone says that India would have been moving in a different direction had Sardar Patel been the country's first prime minister. We have already begun the course correction and have put the country in the right direction with so much hard work. Therefore, we cannot afford to commit the same mistake that was committed at the time of India's Independence," he added.
In the evening, Modi took part in a more than 30-km-long roadshow in Ahmedabad city, starting from Naroda village. A large number of people standing on both sides of the route greeted the PM during the roadshow which began around 5.20 pm.
Standing in a specially-designed vehicle, the prime minister waved at the crowd. The roadshow was to pass through the eastern part of Ahmedabad and end at IOC circle in the Chandkheda area on the city's western side, covering 13 constituencies in Ahmedabad city as well as Gandhinagar-South.