Calling him a “hypocrite,” CPI (M) Politburo member Brinda Karat on Sunday lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for trumpeting his humble background as a tea-seller. Ms. Karat dared Mr. Modi to state a “single example” where he has issued license to a tea-vendor to run his shop without having to face police harassment.

“This is utter hypocrisy. On one hand he is talking of being a 'kaamdaar' and his background as a tea-seller, while on the other bulldozers are razing slums for the corporate. I dare him to name even a single policy that has benefitted the tea-sellers in Gujarat,” Ms. Karat told reporters here.

Ms. Karat was reacting to Mr. Modi’s speech at his party’s national council in Delhi. “The Gujarat government has razed jhuggis (shanties) to make way for the corporate and not rehabilitated the displaced,” Ms. Karat added. She said that the Gujarat Chief Minister was trying hard to get a “makeover” from communalism by talking of his ‘poor background and backward class.’

Crucially, in a bid to woo the OBC community, which leans towards the Samajwadi Party in UP, the BJP is scheduled to launch a month-long social justice programme in each district of the State on February 15.

The BJP hopes to makes the most of Mr. Modi’s tea-seller credentials as it will intensify the “Namo chai ki chaupal” campaign to gather support for the three remaining rallies in UP, in Gorakhpur, Meerut and Lucknow, party leaders say.

While Ms. Karat said her party, and other left parties, would be open to alliances in UP, she dismissed any coalition with the Aam Aadmi Party. “There is no question. The party has no ideology, on matters of national importance. We cannot support a party which does a u-turn.”

Addressing a seminar on communalism, Ms. Karat claimed that the RSS’ pretentions of a cultural organization not engaged in politics were exposed with the candidature of Mr. Modi. “The RSS has a direct role to play in the BJP’s election campaign and Modi is the face of that ideology. The RSS-BJP will contest with the dual agenda of Hinduvta and corporatism.”

The RSS front organizations want to communalize the atmosphere to polarise votes on religion, she added. She, however, added that the Congress and the BJP were two sides of the same coin. “Neo-liberal policies and communalism go together,” she said. Ms. Karat also said that for the upcoming elections the BJP had raised two other issues for its campaign: nationalism and the dignity of Hindu women. But it was ironic, that, Mr. Modi maintained silence on the rapes of women during the Muzafarrnagar riots, Ms. Karat said. She also accused the BJP of being two-faced on the issue of terror.

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