New Delhi, Sep 29: BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Sunday attacked Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for “insulting” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and asked people to choose a “dream team” in 2014 by junking the “dirty team” of Congress-led UPA.
Addressing his first – and a mammoth – rally in Delhi in his new avatar, Modi also hit out at Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for reportedly calling Manmohan Singh a “dehati aurat” (rural woman).
There was a huge turnout — the crowds estimated at between two and five lakh — at the sprawling Japanese Park in north Delhi, with the Gujarat chief minister cheered by an army of young supporters who kept a steady chant of “Modi! Modi!” Several diplomats also turned up to hear Modi.
Like elsewhere in the country, Modi overshadowed the local party leaders including Delhi president Vijay Goel and veterans Vijay Kumar Malhotra and Vijender Gupta.
“When his own party leader calls the PM ‘nonsense’, how can he (PM) get respect abroad?”, the Bharatiya Janata Party star asked, triggering a wild round of applause and sloganeering.
Modi was referring to Gandhi’s outburst Friday against an ordinance passed by the cabinet that sought to overturn an apex court ruling disqualifying politicians convicted of crime. Gandhi had called it “complete nonsense”.
Referring to Gandhi as “prince”, Modi said: “If I may use a rural terminology, then Congress upadhyaksh ne pradhan mantri ki pagdi uchhal di (Gandhi has insulted the prime minister).”
In his 65-minute speech, Modi urged people to choose between democracy and dynasty in the next Lok Sabha election.
“There is a war between dynastic rule and democracy,” he said of the Gandhis.
“The dynastic rule is trying to strangle democracy. Will the country function on the basis of constitution or on the whims of the prince? The dynastic rule and the prince are not just insulting the prime minister but insulting the constitution, the parliament and democracy,” he added.
Modi targeted growing corruption and said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government was hit by “policy paralysis” and that its “non-governance” was akin to diabetes.
“For 10 years the nation has tolerated UPA. In 2014, the country needs a dream team, not a dirty team. This dirty team needs to be uprooted,” he thundered, as the crowds roared.
Modi also made fun of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit but without taking her name, saying she only “cut ribbons” and passed the buck if and when things went wrong.
Attacking Sharif for his reported comment, Modi asked, raising his voice: “Nawaz Sharif, how dare you say this? What right you have to say this?”
He said that while he was ready to take on Manmohan Singh within India, he would not tolerate any attack on the prime minister by a foreigner. “There can never be a greater insult to the Indian PM. There cannot be a greater insult to India,” he said of Sharif’s reported remark.
Modi’s comments came hours before Manmohan Singh and Sharif were to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The Congress later accused Modi of “insulting” the prime minister, saying he had chosen to believe a Pakistan journalist about Sharif’s purported remarks. Congress leader Ajay Maken also dismissed his contention that Gandhi had “insulted” the prime minister.
Modi, in his speech, also attacked Manmohan Singh, doubting his ability to raise tough questions with Sharif — on Jammu and Kashmir and on the killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops.
“I doubt if you will be able to meet Nawaz Sharif with your head held high because in the past few years you have lost your habit of speaking,” he said.