In a stinging attack on Mulayam Singh, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Thursday said the Samajwadi Party supremo was “not capable” of transforming Uttar Pradesh into Gujarat. “Netaji, do you even know the meaning of Gujarat? he asked. “It means 24 hour electricity for 365 days in every village and street…an agricultural growth of over 10 percent, not being restricted to 3-4 percent. You cannot transform UP into Gujarat. You need a 56-inch chest for that,” Mr. Modi said at the Vijay Shanknaad rally in Gorakhpur.

He was responding to Mr. Singh’s jibe at him during the day at a rally in Varanasi.

“It’s not your haisiyat (capacity). You can't even ensure security or employment to youth, or protect dignity of women. You have ruined UP for politics,” Mr. Modi continued.

Addressing his party’s sixth rally in UP, the Gujarat Chief Minister argued that “development politics” should be given preference over vote bank politics. “You have chosen a shashak (ruler) for 60 years. Elect a sevak (servant) for once, and I will not rest till I change your life and fulfill your dreams.” Mr. Modi also improvised Netaji Subash Chandra Bose’s famous clarion Tum Mujhe Khoon Do, Mein Tumhe Azadi doonga to state: “Give me 60 months, and I promise you a life of peace and happiness.”

Cong losing Dalit, Adivasi and ‘poor’ vote bank to BJP

Claiming that the results of the recently held State elections were a “trailer” to the general elections, Mr. Modi said they also highlighted a worrying trend for the Congress, as the Dalits, Tribals and oppressed classes, whom the party considered “vote banks,” were now resting faith in the BJP. “They have never considered the Dalits and adivasis as humans, but only as vote banks. But look, in Rajasthan out of the 34 seats for reserved categories, Congress won not even a single. The BJP won 32. In Chattisgarh, out of 10 reserved seats Congress won only one.”

Targetting the troika of SP, BSP and Congress for the poor infrastructure in the State, Mr. Modi also used the “poor” card to woo voters of the impoverished eastern UP region, popularly known as Purvanchal. He blamed the country’s poverty on the Congress’ “condescending attitude” towards the poor. “The political future of Congress depends on keeping you poor,” he said. Promptly raking up his own background, he added: “If they didn't have such a mentality, then why is a tea seller, a poor mother's son, so unbearable for the Congress?”

Indirectly plays OBC card

With an eye on the sizeable OBC votes in the State, in particular the non-Yadav Kurmi community, Mr. Modi spoke of the State’s contributions in collecting iron for the statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel in Gujarat. Patel, which is a Kurmi surname, is often misunderstood to be the same as the Gujarati Patel. ALso, in what can be seen as a veiled attempt to woo the Yadavs, Mr. Patel spoke of the disastrous state of the milk industry in UP. The Yadavs are traditionally known for cattle-rearing. “Can't AMUL dairy be set up here?” he asked.

While Hinduvta featured prominently in the backdrop-the stage was set in the shape of the Gorakhnath Temple-Mr. Modi avoided any reference to Hinduvta or Ram Mandir unlike in Varanasi, where he spoke of a Ram Rajya. He also shied clear of wooing Muslims, as Gorakhpur has been known as the bastion of Hinduvta in the region.

Instead, he focused on local issues, showering praises on the cultural contribution of Gorakhpur, in particular the Gita Press for printing various religious texts. Mr. Modi also raised issues related to the defunct fertilizer and sugarcane industries, while urging farmers to engage in forestation.

Meanwhile, police detained two men, who were found with knives, from the rally venue and booked them under the Arms Act. The matter is being investigated.

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