Playing up his tea-vendor image, BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi made an oblique reference to his OBC origin as he reached out to voters in the Hindi heartland

Launching a hard-hitting attack on Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress, BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Monday said the “power game by the clan of three parties” is responsible for the poor plight of UP and the nation even as he ridiculed Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for visiting homes of the poor like a tourist visiting the Taj Mahal.

Playing up his tea-vendor image, Mr. Modi sought to contrast it with those “born with a silver spoon in their mouth” and made an oblique reference to his OBC origin as he reached out to voters in the Hindi heartland.

Promising to cleanse the political system and Parliament from criminal elements, Mr. Modi said that if elected, his first job as PM will be to set up a committee to probe the pending criminal cases against MPs cutting across party lines.

“While the country has been destroyed by the governments of mother and son, Uttar Pradesh has been destroyed by a father-son government. On one hand there is a father-son duo while on the other hand is Behenji (Mayawati)...they waste their whole tenure of five years in teaching a lesson to each other.

“And mother and son (Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi) simply add fuel to the fire, inflame it. This clan of SP, BSP and Congress is thriving here in this manner. Enough of this game of power has continued. Now give me a chance to serve you,” Mr. Modi said.

Targeting both Congress and SP for practising dynastic politics and nepotism, the BJP leader was quite acerbic in his criticism of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra.

“For them all that matters is dynasty and nepotism. And now even the extended family is being covered. They are those, who are not ready to recognise the power of the community beyond their family members.

“These people, who think that that only their sons and daughters will do something and are concerned only with them or their uncle-aunt and insulting the future of Uttar Pradesh,” he said.

'Poverty tourism'

Mocking Mr. Gandhi over his visits to the homes of the poor and Dalits, Mr. Modi said that he goes to the poor to see how a poor person looks, just as some one who has not seen the Taj Mahal visits Agra.

“In the same fashion, Rahul Bhaiya visits here to see the poor. These people who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth want to see poverty. They wonder whether the poor have two legs, two hands, does the poor also have a voice. These people go on poverty tourism,” he said.

Alleging that poverty is a “tourist destination” for Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Modi said, “Whenever he goes for this, he is accompanied by a crew of television cameras. He picks up a child in his lap for a good snap and immediately after the photo session is over, the child is put back on the ground.”

Seeking to contrast it with his own “poor” childhood, the BJP’s PM pick made an attempt to hardsell his tea-vendor image, he said, “I am born in poverty. I know how it feels during a cold winter night. I remember people used to slap me on my face, whenever the tea served by me used to be cold. The scars still remain.”

Hitting out at those who “mock” his childhood and poverty, the Gujarat Chief Minister said, “I have no regrets that I was born in a poor or backward family. I feel sad when leaders of SP, BSP and Congress make a mockery of it and say whether a tea vendor can run the country. This shows the mentality of these leaders. They have become so haughty that they mock poverty. This does not concern Modi.

“What is under question is the mentality of these leaders, who mock my poverty, my childhood every now and then.

They should hear it out. I have sold tea and am proud of it. I have not done anything like selling the nation“.

Vowing to decriminalise politics and Parliament, Mr. Modi rued that residents have to carry guns in Uttar Pradesh for security and attacked parties like SP and BSP saying those who function with the help of goons cannot fight goondaism.

“I have decided that when a new government is formed after May 16, I will set up a committee to find out what cases are pending against whom. Candidates submit in their form during filing nominations the details of cases against them.

I will not discriminate in it. I will not spare whether those are from BJP or NDA.

“I will ask the Supreme Court to hear the cases fast.

Those, who have committed crime, will go to jail and their seats will go to candidates with clean image. No accused will dare to fight polls. Who says that this cleansing cannot happen. I have come to cleanse politics. It is necessary to free Indian democracy from criminalisation,” he said.