New Delhi: At an election rally in Chhattisgarh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a scathing attack on Congress, Its president Rahul Gandhi and his family, saying that the party which had governed India for most of its independent history had strived to improve the fortunes of the Nehru-Gandhi family rather than develop the country.
Picking on a remark by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, PM Modi, who repeatedly referred to the Gandhi family through his speech at Ambikapur, said the Congress did not look beyond the Nehru-Gandhi family and even credited Jawaharlal Nehru, and not the people for elevating a tea seller as a prime minister.
Hitting out at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who has accused the BJP of corruption and crony capitalism, PM Modi asked if his “grandparents” helped Chhattisgarh progress by laying out water pipelines.
“Why didn’t you do it for 100 years? You were around for four generations but why didn’t you do it? Can you answer that? Did you lay down water pipelines? Did your nana-nani, dada-dadi (grandparents) lay it down? And did Raman Singh come and destroy it? First you give us an account of why you did not do it. Then come and ask us why we couldn’t,” PM Modi said.
Former minister Shashi Tharoor had, at an event to launch a new edition of his book on Nehru, credited the first prime minister with creating institutional structures. “If today we have a chai wala as prime minister, it is because Nehru created the institutional structures through which any Indian can aspire to rise to the highest office of the land,” Tharoor said on Tuesday.
The BJP had moved in quickly, slamming Tharoor for his remarks.
Daring the Congress to let someone outside the Gandhi family be the party president for at least five years, the 68-year-old leader said, only then would he believe that the its icon Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru created a truly democratic system.
“They (Congress) have kept the country in the dark with their lies which are ingrained in their minds,” he said.
He also underscored how his humble beginnings were starkly different from those in the Congress. “Only a chai-wala (tea-seller) can understand the feeling of what poor people go through, not those running around abroad,” the Prime Minister said.
The prime minister, who also travelled to Madhya Pradesh today for election campaigning, referred to himself as a tea seller for much of his speech.
“See the power of a tea seller,” he said at one point, talking about the millions of people who had been without bank accounts for decades. “A chai wallah opened the doors of banks for millions,” he said.
Chhattisgarh is voting for its assembly elections in two phases where BJP’s Raman Singh is seeking a fourth term as Chief Minister. The first phase, held on Monday, saw an encouraging turnout of over 76% despite Maoist threats. The second phase will be held on next Tuesday. Results for the elections will declared be on December 11.
(With PTI inputs)