Accuses UPA government at the Centre of ‘total dismal failure'
Amid re-appearance of Sanjay Joshi posters close to the venue where the State Bharatiya Janata Party executive was meeting in Rajkot, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday termed the Congress a “sinking ship.”
Delivering the concluding address at the two-day meeting of the executive, Mr. Modi expressed confidence that his party would perform a hat-trick in the 2013 Assembly elections, after its resounding victories in 2002 and 2007.
“The people in the State have always supported the BJP and this time the conditions are even more conducive for us because of the total dismal failure of the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre,” Mr. Modi said.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has disappointed the people in the country so much that everyone is trying to find an escape route to get rid of the UPA government at the Centre. The Congress has developed a hole in the ship and is sinking as it has miscalculated the people's power,” he said.
Though an executive committee member, Mr. Modi's arch rival and the former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel was not even sent an invitation by the party to attend meet at his home town. Instead, Mr. Patel along with several other Modi-baiters appeared on a platform of the Mahagujarat Janata Party to address a rally of the tribals at Ghoghama village in the Panchamahals district some 400 km from the venue of the BJP meet.
Despite being still in the BJP, Mr. Patel made it clear that he would no longer be bound by the party discipline but campaign against Mr. Modi and the BJP to “create awareness among the people about their rights.”
He said he had been repeatedly told by the party to keep silent for the sake of discipline. “I have kept my mouth shut all these years but no more,” he said. Mr. Modi, he said, was making tall claims about the achievements of his government, but these were all “noise made by an empty vessel. The ground reality is different, the people have gained nothing.”
Mr. Patel, another former Chief Minister Suresh Mehta, the former Union Minister Kashiram Rana, MJP president Gordhan Jhadafiya, and other leaders who attended the tribal rally said the Modi era had benefited only a few industrialists and others, but the conditions of the people in general and the poor in particular had further deteriorated.
“Mr. Modi's talk of development meant development of only a few, not of the State or the people in general,” they said.
Mr. Modi, however, maintained that “development for all” would remain his party's corner-stone in the coming elections. “My critics are leaving no stone unturned to denounce Gujarat and my government, but we will not give up our promised line of development for all,” the Chief Minister said, and added that the choice of the people would be to select between “our development and the Congress party's caste-based politics.”
The executive meeting made no reference about either the absence of Mr. Keshubhai Patel or the on-going poster-war between Mr. Modi and his bete noire Sanjay Joshi, but posters appeared in Rajkot and also in Vadodara, carrying Mr. Joshi's photograph with the Nationalist Congress Party emblem. “Yes, we have splashed Mr. Joshi's posters to remind the people about what Mr. Modi has done to him,” State NCP president Jayant Patel, said.
The Modi-Joshi war was also kept alive by one Kutch Ladayak Manch which inserted advertisements in the local newspapers, describing Mr. Joshi as a Maharashtrian Brahmin and asking him to “reply to Chief Minister's ‘raj dand with his brahm dand.” It also demanded Mr. Joshi to take “political sanyas” if he was not capable of giving a “fitting reply” to Mr. Modi.
Some volunteers of the “Brahm Sena” wearing Mr. Joshi's masks also staged demonstrations near the venue of the BJP executive meeting but were quickly whisked away by the police.
The BJP executive also chalked out agitational programmes for the next couple of months to educate the people about the price rise and “misrule” of the UPA government at the Centre vis-à-vis the developmental programmes of the Modi government in the State.