Narendra Modi kickstarts poll campaign in
Chief Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday kicked off his Bharatiya
Janata Party's campaign for the assembly polls in December,
challenging the Congress to battle it on the issue of development
and not by using the CBI to target him. »
Sounding the rallying cry for a new Gujarat, Congress president
Sonia Gandhi Wednesday defended the central government's decisions
on the economy and said the state's ruling BJP was not against
corruption but only against her party.
Addressing a rally in Rajkot, about 200 km from here, Gandhi took
on Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has demanded that the
government make public the money spent on her medical treatment
"Yeh log brashtachar ke khilaf nahin, sirf hamare khilaf hain.
(These people are not against corruption, just against us),"
"Ek naya Gujarat banana hai aur banayenge (We have to make a new
Gujarat and we will)," she said, sounding the war cry ahead of
elections to the Gujarat assembly, the dates of which would be
announced by the Election Commission Wednesday.
Gandhi also vigorously defended the government's decision to
increase diesel prices and permit foreign investment in
Congress sources said this was a pre-poll rally and she would
address three or four more rallies after the poll dates were
Party sources said Rajkot, in Saurashtra region, was chosen as the
site for the launch of the Congress campaign as farmers there had
been facing problems.
Challenging the Bharatiya Janata Party's version of development in
Gujarat, Gandhi said the waters of Narmada had still not reached
"The farmers here are suffering due to lack of water. I want to
ask why the water of Narmada has not reached the farmers of
Saurashtra in the past 10 years," she said.
She said the Sardar Sarovar dam project was started by the
Congress government in the name of the famous Congress leader from
Gujarat, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Noting that parts of the state had suffered due to drought this
year and some farmers had committed suicide, Gandhi urged the
state to survey the regions and send a report to New Delhi, so
farmers of the region could be provided help at the earliest.
Taking a dig at the development plank of Modi, Gandhi claimed that
no other party had done as much development work in Gujarat as the
Congress, but some people claimed credit for every achievement.
"The people of Saurashtra region earned fame due to their hard
work," she said.
A day after the 143rd birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who was
born in Gujarat, the Congress president invoked his legacy and
said the party continued to draw strength from the leader of the
"We have come a long way on the path shown by Mahatma Gandhi, but
we have miles to go," she said.
Exhorting the people to go along with the Congress, she said
voters were sensible and understood everything. Development and
peace in Gujarat had to take along all sections of society.
On Tuesday, the Congress had demanded an apology from Modi for his
allegation that the central government spent Rs.1,880 crore on
Gandhi's foreign visits and medical treatment abroad.
However, the BJP strongman stuck to his guns, saying the Congress
should reveal answers to the RTI queries on Gandhi's travel and
"Modi should apologise to the nation and to the Gandhi family now
that it is proved that his allegations on Soniaji's foreign visits
and her treatment abroad were wrong," Congress leader Rajeev
Modi had criticised the central government Monday for questioning
the Gujarat government for spending money on festivities and
He claimed that the state should not be questioned, when the
central government had itself spent Rs.1,880 crore for Gandhi's
foreign trips and "treatment abroad" over three years.
Gandhi went abroad Sep 1 for a routine medical check-up and
returned after a week. She went to the US for a surgery related to
an undisclosed ailment last year.