Avoids mentioning minorities, ‘Ram Temple’ in his speech

Launching his counter-offensive against the Congress, BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi on Sunday said the party did not name its prime ministerial candidate ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha elections because an imminent defeat was staring it in its face.

Targeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi without naming them, Mr. Modi said that a mother did not want to "sacrifice" her son politically in view of a sure-shot electoral defeat. Terming the January 17 AICC session as a "party saving exercise", he said the Congress workers instead of getting a prime ministerial candidate had to return with “three gas cylinders”.

Responding to senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s 'Chai Walla' (Tea Vendor) jibe at him, Mr. Modi said that tea vendors across the country are feeling proud that one amongst them has risen to become a prime ministerial nominee.

Addressing the party’s National Council at Ramlila ground here, Mr. Modi accused the Congress of feudal and elitist mindset, and questioned whether they were shying of contesting against him because he comes from a humble background.

Mr. Modi’s 75-minute speech in Hindi, interspersed with subtle wit and digs at his political opponents, was applauded by party cadres. Sounding the battle cry for 2014 general elections, he appealed to the people to give one chance to the BJP and to him to serve the nation.

Even as he rolled out a slew of solutions to various problems describing them as "My Idea of India", there was no reference to key issues like communal harmony, minorities, tax reforms and the 'Ram Temple'

The mainstay of his speech was “good governance”, and Mr. Modi said the BJP stood for balanced development in all regions, respecting federal structure in letter and spirit by doing away with the ``big brother’’ attitude of New Delhi towards States.

Criticising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr. Modi said in the past 10 years only committees have been constituted for various problems, instead of coming out with solutions. "The country needs commitment not committees," he said, dubbing the UPA rule becoming synonymous with control price rise, corruption, lack of employment for youth and crimes against women.

Referring to his "rainbow strategy", Mr. Modi named seven unique aspects that need to be strengthened -- cultural and familial values, agricultural-rural development, empowerment and security of women, environmental protection, youth power, democracy and knowledge and skill development.

Stressing on "creating a brand India", he said that five Ts – Talent, Tradition, Tourism, Trade and Technology, if tended to properly, would catapult India into frontline of global comity of nations. Amid applause by party workers and seeking votes in the name of India, he unveiled his idea of India – based on truth, non-violence, service of the poor, respect towards women -- saying it cannot be confined to any one person or entity.

Mr. Modi’s "mission mode" development strategy spanned all sectors – industry, next generation infrastructure, water and gas grids, fast bullet trains like Japan, healthcare, education, agriculture, urbanisation, setting up 100 smart cities and IITs, IIMs and AIIMS in every State.

Taking a cue from the newbie Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), he exhorted the party cadres to launch door-to-door campaign and approach 10 crore families for funds. "I am sure people will happily donate funds when you tell them that a "tea vendor" who has no possessions of his own is contesting elections," he said.

He also took on the Congress and questioned it for flouting laid-down parliamentary, democratic traditions by citing instances of hurriedly naming Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister when the party was unanimous in wanting Sardar Patel as PM, then Rajiv Gandhi was chosen as Prime Minister in 1984 after the assassination of Indira Gandhi and in 2004 when the party MPs chose Sonia Gandhi to be the prime minister but she in turn nominated Manmohan Singh to head the government.

Terming the coming general elections as a "dawn of a new era", Mr. Modi declared: "It’s time to move from representative democracy to participative democracy."

Modi thanks Advani

BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi on Sunday thanked party patriarch L K Advani for his “inspiring words”. In response to the BJP veteran’s praise for the work undertaken by him in Gujarat, Mr. Modi chose to express his gratitude on Twitter.

“Thank you Advaniji for your inspiring words! You have been our inspiration, our guide & with your blessings, Mission 272+ will be a success,” Mr. Modi tweeted.

The bonhomie between the two leaders at the National Council meeting on Sunday put to rest any doubts about Mr. Advani’s reservation to Mr. Modi’s nomination as prime ministerial candidate of the BJP.

Praising Mr. Modi for his track record in governance, Mr. Advani said there are many achievements made in Gujarat for which everybody including the chief minister can be proud of.

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