‘If Congress uses the CBI, India will not forgive it’

The Madhya Pradesh Cabinet danced on stage and perceived rivals in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) praised each other to the hilt. Yet, the crowds of more than 7 lakh — as claimed by the party – were denied even an illusory detente between former deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

At the Jamboree Grounds here on Wednesday, Mr. Advani maintained a foot’s distance from Mr. Modi, forcing BJP president Rajnath Singh to rush in to fill the gap, when all the leaders were encircled in a large garland. After Mr. Advani presented bouquets to State Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan and Mr. Modi, Mr. Chouhan reflexively touched the patriarch’s feet and was blessed by him as Mr. Modi looked on.

Mr. Modi then proceeded to touch Mr. Advani’s feet. The leader, who opposed Mr. Modi’s elevation as the Prime Ministerial candidate, ignored the gesture and returned to his seat. After the rally, Rajya Sabha MP Prabhat Jha told The Hindu, “Advani ji gave his ashirwad (blessings)to Modi ji after his speech.”

Mr. Advani, in his speech however, praised Gujarat for being the first State to grant continuous power supply to its villages. “In some programmes the speeches don’t matter as much the attendance... Where we have reached today is not just because of good speeches but due to work and tapasya (meditation and penance),” he said.

He reminded workers of the socialist allies who paved the party’s path to success. “For a long time we were in opposition. We worked well but people thought that we could only remain in opposition. We came in contact with leaders like Morarji Desai, Jayaprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia. We then formed governments in States and the Centre along with our allies,” he said.

After Mr. Modi gained prominence in the party, the only allies are the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena.

Groups of youth circulated in the crowd asking BJP workers to chant Mr. Modi’s name. As a result, all the speakers, except Lok Sabha Opposition Leader Sushma Swaraj, were interrupted in their speeches. Mr. Chouhan and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Dave tried to discipline the crowds by asking them not to raise placards of Mr. Chouhan. While the placards were of Mr. Chouhan, the din that rose above the speakers was Mr. Modi’s name. When he began to speak, crowds broke the barricades and entered the press enclosure in front.

Mr. Modi praised Mr. Advani and former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee. “When Ataj ji and Advani ji served in Delhi, no State complained of discrimination. Today all the problems of Madhya Pradesh are being created by the Delhi sultanate... Are you punishing Madhya Pradesh for not voting for you? If you want to fight then fight us leaders, not the people,” he said.

He said the Congress would not field any candidates in the upcoming elections for five legislative assemblies. “The Congress does not have the guts to fight. It will field the CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] instead... Remember how people took revenge for every crime they [Congress] committed during the Emergency... If you use the CBI, India will not forgive you,” he said.

Former BJP minister Praful Patel was quizzed by the CBI on Tuesday in the Ishrat Jahan Encounter case of 2004.

“Mahatma Gandhi’s last wish was that the Congress should be disbanded. It is our responsibility to fulfil his dream. To free the nation of Congress’ culture, activities, corruption and dynastic politics we must make our polling booths Congress free,” said Mr. Modi.

Earlier, Mr. Chouhan too administered an oath to supporters to keep polling booths Congress free. He also recited the English alphabet with an accusation on the United Progressive Alliance for every alphabet.

The main organiser of the programme, Mr. Dave was more blunt. “Wherever you stay, no Congress voter must remain. Let other parties remain, but not the Congress,” he instructed the party’s faithful.

Tainted Minister Raghavji attends rally

Raghavji, former State Finance Minister, who was expelled from the party after being accused of sexually exploiting a male aide, also attended the Karyakarta Mahakumbh. Raghavji was prevented by police from proceeding to the stage. He then entered the media enclosure, from where he was later escorted to a tent on the side.

He said, “Narendra Tomar ji [State BJP chief] asked me to attend as an ordinary worker.” Raghavji’s sharing the stage with Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Chouhan at a public function in Vidisha on Sunday drew flak from the Congress.

This story was corrected for a factual error