Mounting a scathing attack on the Congress and Gandhis for considering Gujarat and Gujaratis as “irritants in the eye”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday set the the tone for the BJP campaign in assembly elections in the state, saying the party’s impressive showing in Uttar Pradesh had forced “political pundits” to tell the Opposition “give 2019 to Modi, start focusing on 2024”. Describing the assembly elections as a fight between “vikasvaad” (development) of the BJP and “vanshvaad” (dynasty) of the Congress, Modi told a huge gathering of party ‘page pramukh’ that the Congress, while in power at the Centre, tried its best to jail him after sending Amit Shah behind bars — Shah was arrested in July 2010 in connection with the Sohrabuddin encounter case. “Jab mein mukhya mantri tha, kaise kaise shadyantra. Mujhe jail me dalne ke liye aap ne tay kiya tha ki Amit Shah ko jail me nahi dalenge tab tak Modi tak nahi pahunch payenge… aaj dekh lijiye, aap kahan hain aur ham kahan hain (When I was Chief Minister, all kinds of conspiracies were hatched (by Congress). To jail me, you decided you had to jail Amit Shah first to get to me. But today, look where you are and where we are),” he said.
To boost party morale in the run-up to the assembly election — dates for which are still to be announced — Modi said: “Jab Uttar Pradesh ke chunav ke results aaye thhe, tabhi desh ke political pandito ne bol diya tha ki vipaksh ko 2019 ki taiyyari chhod deni chahiye aur 2024 ke liye lag jaana chahiye. 2019 Modi ko de do, 2024 pe lag jao (When UP results came in, political pundits said the Opposition should forget about 2019 and start preparing for 2024. Give 2019 to Modi, start focusing on 2024.” Modi said the central leadership of the Congress party was “anti-Gujarat”, irrespective of the party a Gujarati leader came from. “Is parivar aur party ko Gujarat hamesha aankh me chubhata hai. Sardar Patel, Maniben Patel unke saath kya kiya? (Gujarat has always been an eyesore for this family and the party. What did they do with Sardar Patel, Maniben Patel?) Naming Gujarat leaders Morarji Desai and Madhavsinh Solanki, he said they were given raw treatment by the Congress leadership. Madhavsinh, Modi said, got maximum seats for the party in the Gujarat assembly, but when the former was Foreign Minister, he was sent with a letter with reference to the Bofors scam. He said the Congress party did not allow completion of the Sardar Sarovar Project for years because it was first conceptualised by Sardar Patel. On the vikas-has-gone-crazy campaign on social media mocking development claims of the BJP in Gujarat, Modi said: “Vikas ke naam par Congress kabhi lad nahi sakti” (Congress can never fight in the name of development).
“They used to say that we are anti-Dalits. Today, we have maximum Dalit MPs. They said we are anti-tribals. Today, we have maximum tribal MPs… They said BJP is an urban party. Today, we have maximum farmer MPs. They said BJP is a party of ‘savarnas’. Today, we have maximum OBC MPs. Since nothing is left now, they have abused vikas (development) itself,” Modi said. “Today, I am again throwing them a challenge to fight elections on the issue of development. But don’t defame development,” he said. “These people have looted this country. Who will save the middle class? For me, country is above the party… And people need to understand what this is.” “Yeh chunaav, vikasvaad ka jung hai. Unke liye vanshvaad ka jung hai. Aur vikasvaad ka vijay honewala hai.” (This election is a battle for development. For them, it is a battle for dynasty. Development is going to win).