Heaps praise on Raman Singh, fuels speculation that he’s trying to counter perceived threat from Chouhan

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched a scathing attack on the Congress, saying the “entire Union government is crumbling under pressure of arrogance and corruption.”

“It is not Coalgate files alone; the entire Union government has gone missing … country has never been through such a bad crisis ever,” he told a gathering on the PG College ground in Ambikapur, headquarters of Surguja district. It was the last meeting of the four-month-long “vikas yatra” (development rally) launched by Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh.

Mr. Modi has visited Chhattisgarh often in the last few months. During a visit in May, soon after Mr. Singh launched the yatra, he addressed a public meeting in Rajnandgaon. “Chhattisgarh will soon overtake Gujarat in development,” he had said.

On Saturday, Mr. Modi praised Mr. Singh’s government’s “pro-people policies” from a stage that looked like a shoddy replica of Delhi’s Red Fort. “He [Singh] could have gone to Delhi with a begging bowl and ask for money as the head of a new State 10 years ago. He did not do that, rather he took the bull by the horns … and converted Chhattisgarh to a powerhouse of development.”

Complimenting the State’s Public Distribution System and simultaneously taking a jibe at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr. Modi said: “He [Raman Singh] is the doctor of the poor, while the doctor in Delhi [Manmohan Singh] is the doctor of rupaiya [money].”

While the Gujarat Chief Minister was going all out in praising Mr. Singh, a few hundred kilometres north of Ambikapur, his Madhya Pradesh counterpart, Shivraj Singh Chouhan,gave a statement, clarifying he is “not against” Mr. Modi.

Mr. Modi’s visits to Chhattisgarh over the last few months and routine praises for Mr. Singh, however, are fuelling speculation that this is a ploy to “indicate that Mr. Chouhan is an under performer,” a Chhattisgarh BJP leader said.Mr. Chouhan, he said, may win more seats for the party in the next general election than what Mr. Modi can from Gujarat. Thus, the speculation is “to counter that, Mr. Modi must be promoting our Chief Minister,” he added.

‘Congress has lost mandate’

On Saturday, Mr. Modi also hit out at the Central government, saying the Congress had lost the mandate to govern. On one hand there was massive price rise that had “prevented a mother to feed her child” and on the other, corruption had “destroyed the image of Manmohan Singh and his government.” “In addition, the government was loaded with arrogance … and not ready to listen to any suggestions,” he said.

The Congress’s policy on Telangana had “set ablaze” the region. The BJP managed to peacefully bifurcate Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and M.P. during its tenure, he noted.