Reacting to a Samajwadi Party leader’s tea-seller remark, BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Friday accused the UPA leaders of “selling the nation.”

“The UPA says tea-sellers cannot be PM. Are those who sell our nation eligible to become the PM then? UPA leaders are cheating the poor by insulting them... the poor will have their revenge,” Mr. Modi said in a hard-hitting speech in Raigarh in Chhattisgarh, 230 km from Raipur.

Naresh Agarwal, a senior leader of the Samajwadi Party (which extends outside support to the UPA government), had mocked Mr. Modi’s credentials for leading the country, saying a tea-seller cannot make a good prime minister. “A tea-seller is a better person that those who sell the country,” the Gujarat Chief Minister said.

Mr. Modi also sharpened his attack on the Nehru-Gandhi family. “The shehzada [Rahul Gandhi] had come here and was talking about changing the system. In the first place, he should know that the system was made by his father [Rajiv Gandhi], his grandmother [Indira Gandhi] and great-grandfather [Jawaharlal Nehru] for 60 years during their rule.

“It is they who made the system. It is they who distorted it and misused it for their personal gains. When they know that it is the time to go, they are talking about the system.”

Mr. Modi also targeted Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for alleging that the Chhattisgarh government did not do enough for development of the agriculture sector. “Madam, please come here after doing your homework. If you do not have information, please sit with [Chief Minister] Raman Singhji and then come. Please do not make such statements, it is the question of the country’s pride and prestige,” he said.

Mr. Modi criticised Ms. Gandhi for blaming the Raman Singh-led government for the spread of naxalism in Chhattisgarh when it was the Congress which repealed the anti-terror law that was enacted by the NDA regime.

Alleging that the Congress-led UPA government was busy “either having a dig at Modi or digging for gold,” Mr. Modi said these days Congress leaders and “more than 1,000 researchers” sit in front of television cameras to tear apart his speeches to abuse him in public debates.

Raising the issue of attack on veteran singer Lata Mangeshkar by some Congress leaders for backing him as the prime ministerial nominee, Mr. Modi said this smacked of fascism and was against the norms of democracy. “Isn’t Congress acting like Hitler?,” he asked.

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