Modi flags off BJP poll campaign with 'India first' slogan

Hyderabad, Aug 11 : Invoking his slogan 'India First', Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi Sunday flagged off the BJP's campaign for 2014 elections with a call to rid the country of the Congress even as he sought to attract support from parties like the TDP and AIADMK.

Addressing a mammoth public meeting, the first after he took over as chairman of Bharatiya Janata Party's campaign committee, Modi said development was the foundation of his vision of India.

Unveiling his vision of the government, Modi, who is seen by many as BJP's prime ministerial candidate, said its only religion should be 'India first', its mantra should be the Constitution, its belief should be 'Bharat Bhakti', its power should be people's power and its worship should be the welfare of 125 crore people.

Modi invoked Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder N.T. Rama Rao to woo the party for his efforts to form non-Congress government at the centre. He said TDP, which claims legacy of NTR, has the responsibility to fulfil his dream.

In an attempt to woo AIADMK, Modi also praised the J. Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu for its schemes.

He accused the Congress of creating a wedge between the people of Telangana and Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and Andhra) regions of Andhra Pradesh.

He said despite promising a Telangana state in 2004, the Congress failed to build a capital for Seemandhra. He hinted that this was the cause for the ongoing protests in Seemandhra over the decision to carve out a separate state.

Modi appealed to people of both the regions to live peacefully as brothers and not to get provoked despite the Congress 'games'. He accused the Congress of adopting a divide-and-rule policy.

Eminent personalities of Telugu film industry and people from various walks of life called on Modi, who also addressed a meeting of office-bearers of BJP's Andhra Pradesh unit before winding up his day-long visit.

Modi ended his 45-minute-long address at the public meeting by repeating Barack Obama's famous words 'Yes we can'. He asked the audience to repeat with him "Yes we can. Yes we will do", "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" and "Vande Mataram".

Thousands of people, mostly youth, attended the meeting at L.B. Stadium. It was the first of 100 such meetings planned by BJP in the run-up to the polls.

The Gujarat chief minister said the path of development alone can change India's destiny.

"Solution to all our problem lies in development and in the welfare of all sections of people but Congress is not ready to tread on this path," he said.

Stating that Congress has become a burden on the country, he said an atmosphere to rid the country of Congress party was prevailing with awareness among youth, farmers and poor.

Modi slammed Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for what he called its all-round failure, corruption and vote bank politics.

Modi said last week's incidents shocked the country and people lost faith in the UPA government. Targeting the government for its foreign policy, he came down heavily on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his silence over the killing of Indian soldiers by Pakistani army.

"When two Indian soldiers were beheaded the prime minister had said if such an incident takes place again, we will give fitting reply to Pakistan. This week Pakistani soldiers gun down our men. People are asking the government why Pakistan is continuing the excesses and why this country of 125 crore is silently tolerating," he said.

On the violence in Kishtwar, Modi said this was not a small incident but could be a conspiracy to repeat in Jammu what is happening in Kashmir Valley for last three decades. He said the Jammu and Kashmir government stopped BJP leader Arun Jaitley from visiting Kishtwar to suppress the facts.

Modi had a dig at the food security bill, saying the Congress had to bring it as it impoverished the people. He said the party was now using the word inclusive growth because it always excluded people from development.

--IANS (Posted on 11-08-2013)

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