Gujarat Chief Minister targets UPA over a range of issues at a well-attended meeting

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi launched the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election campaign here on Sunday, urging non-Congress Opposition, including the Telugu Desam Party, to joins hands to rid the country of the UPA’s “misrule.”

He launched a trenchant attack on the Congress leadership and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for their “non-serious attitude” to some key issues facing the country. “The Congress has become a burden on the country. Its leaders are not bothered about the people’s plight as answering them will make it pay a heavy price.”

Mr. Modi was addressing an impressive gathering at a public meeting, ‘Nava Bharatha Yuva Bheri,’ at Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium, the first in a series of 100 events planned nationwide in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election. This is the first major meeting of Mr. Modi after he became chairman of the BJP’s campaign committee.

He said an anti-Congress wave was sweeping the country and the youth, farmers and the poor longed for the “corrupt UPA” to lose power. He made the gathering, predominantly consisting of youth, to repeat after him: “Yes we can. Yes we will.” Criticising the UPA government over the Food Security Bill, he said the term ‘inclusive growth’ was bandied about a lot because the Congress practised exclusion for 60 years.

Recalling the key role played by the Telugu Desam founder and former Chief Minister, N.T. RamaRao, in the formation of non-Congress governments in the past, Mr. Modi said the fittest tribute to NTR would be to free the country of the Congress rule. The TDP, which claimed to inherit NTR’s legacy, should do whatever was required to fulfil its founder’s dream.

Amid thunderous applause, he criticised the Congress government for neglecting such key issues as security, employment and poverty alleviation. He charged the Prime Minister with maintaining a stoic silence when Pakistani soldiers killed Indian jawans in Kashmir and the Chinese continued incursions into India. The Border Security Force, he said, was restrained from acting against Bangladeshi infiltrators in spite of attacks on them. He recalled the Prime Minister’s statement, after two soldiers were beheaded by Pakistani soldiers in January this year, that the country would give a fitting reply if such incidents occurred again. But there was no action from the UPA government after last week’s killing of five soldiers in the Poonch sector. The government was neglecting national security for vote-bank politics.

Expressing concern at the violence and loss of lives and property in the Kashmir Valley, he criticised the Jammu and Kashmir government for detaining senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley at Jammu airport while he was heading for the riot-hit Kishtwar.

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