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BJP, Congress spar over secularism
Monday July 15, 2013 5:57 PM, IANS

The veil of secularism is "better than naked communalism", said the Congress Monday while attacking Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and sharing development data to expose his "false" charges against the UPA.

"The veil of secularism is better than naked communalism. Communalism divides the country while secularism unites it," Congress general secretary Ajay Maken told reporters.

Addressing a college gathering in Pune Sunday, Modi said that whenever the Congress government is faced by trouble, they hide behind "a veil of secularism" so that no one questions them on real issues. He also accused the Congress of failing to address poverty.

Maken countered the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and said: "Modi should first improve his state before lecturing the centre on development indicators."

"He (Modi) has no moral authority to criticise the central government when he has failed in his state as chief minister," Maken said.

"He has no right to create a false impression," he said.

Modi had also questioned the outcome of the food security proposal, and hit out at the UPA over the falling value of the rupee and its claims of enacting rights-based legislation, saying people needed action, not acts.

Maken said during the nine years of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule, the performance was better than what the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) achieved during its six year rule 1998-2004 and even the claims of Gujarat under Modi did not match up to them.

"We need to reply to his charges which are based on wrong facts... We want our success story to be told to people," said Maken.

According to Maken, the UPA scored better than the NDA on most counts including education, health, sports and economic growth.

While the expenditure on education as a percentage of the GDP was a mere 1.67 percent during the NDA government, it was 4.02 under the UPA, he said.

Also, the number of central universities went up from 17 to 44, Indian Institutes of Technology from seven to 16 and Indian Institutes of Management from six to 13 during the UPA rule.

Maken said only four out of the 16 degree colleges in Gujarat had regular principals and 125 out of 187 schools in Gujarat had no principals.

"What is Modi doing to push the education sector in his state," asked Maken.

The performance of the mid-day meal scheme in Gujarat government schools at 89.94 percent was below the national average of 90.06, he said.

Maken also said the economy grew annually at an average rate of 7.9 percent during the UPA rule, as against 6 percent growth achieved by the NDA.



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