The amount is for rehabilitation of Uttarakhand flood victims, says Venkaiah

Senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday justified the decision of the party to collect Rs.5 as registration fee from each of those attending the public meeting to be addressed by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at Lal Bahadur Stadium here on August 11.

“What is wrong in it? We are not forcing anybody. Those not paying will also be allowed,” he said at a press conference here. The amount collected would be used for rehabilitation of Uttarakhand flood victims.

Mr. Naidu challenged Congress for a debate on good governance and development, the twin planks on which the party would be seeking a mandate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He denied that the BJP was running away from a debate and said the focus should be on the governance during the five-year-rule of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and 55-year-rule of various Congress governments at the Centre. A comparison would also have to be made of the development in BJP-ruled and Congress-run States in the country. He accused the Congress of diverting people’s attention from governance and development whenever it faced trouble or failed to implement its promises. The youth of the country want development, better opportunities and improved living standards.

Mr. Naidu said the Congress was rattled by the growing popularity of Gujarat Chief Minister and accused the party of trying to hit below the belt.

Regarding the recent Supreme Court verdict that charge-sheeted MPs, MLAs would be disqualified on the date of criminal conviction, he said the BJP favoured the spirit behind the verdict. Referring to the ruling that persons in lawful custody cannot contest elections, he said there was a possibility of misuse of provisions wherever political rivalry was intense.

Earlier, speaking at a prayer meeting organised by the State BJP for Uttarakhand flood victims, he demanded the Centre to convene an all-party meeting to discuss rehabilitation measures.