25 February 2009
Modi says Rahul 'aquarium fish'
The war of words between Narendra Modi and the Congress grew shriller Sunday. The Gujarat chief minister likened Congress MP Rahul Gandhi to a "small fish" in an aquarium, and the Congress promptly described Modi as a "piranha who devours human beings".
Modi, addressing a poll rally in Goa, said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders like him and his counterparts in states ruled by the party are like "ocean fish" who weather big storms, unlike those "floating around in aquariums".
In an obvious dig at Rahul Gandhi, the 38-year-old Congress general secretary who is being projected as a youth icon by the Congress, Modi said: "We are not small fish floating around in the comfort of aquariums, but we weather huge storms to win."
"We are not flowers cultivated by gardeners of the rich. We have grown up in the forests on our own," Modi said, asking: "Which young people are they talking about?"
He continued: "Aren't there young people living in the slums and in the homes of poor? But they are not considered young, for their fathers are not rich, because their fathers were not prime ministers or their mothers are not big people."
Modi, who is in-charge of the BJP in Goa for upcoming Lok Sabha elections, claimed that compared to the Congress, his party had younger chief ministers.
The Congress reacted sharply to Modi's "fish" remarks, with spokesperson Manish Tewari saying in New Delhi: "If Rahul is a fish in the aquarium, then Modi is a piranha who devours human beings."
He said Modi had no right to speak about the poor, for unlike Rahul Gandhi, he had never spent a day in a Dalit's shanty. "The chief minister of Gujarat has lost it completely," remarked Tewari.
He said the "Congress party has a history of empowering the youth; it is not a new development."
Modi, addressing a party rally in Mapusa, 12 km from Panaji, said for the first time in independent India's political history, chiefs of armed forces had been forced to indulge in war rhetoric before the media.
"It is unprecedented. This is nothing but a ploy to appease their minority vote bank. Despite 26/11, the Congress does not want to act tough against Pakistan," Modi said.
Raising the pitch further, the Gujarat chief minister said that with the 26/11 terror-strikes in Mumbai, Pakistan had initiated war and India should have responded accordingly.
"Instead, the Indian government went and begged before the US, pleading with them to lean on Pakistan."
Claiming that the Congress-led coalition government had failed miserably vis-?is security and progress, Modi said the Congress had made India weak-kneed in face of growing terrorism.
"Why is Afzal Guru not being hanged, despite being pronounced guilty? Why is he being kept alive, as if he is in a museum," he said.
Modi addressed BJP party workers meetings in the two Lok Sabha constituencies during his two-day visit to Goa.
While sitting MP Shripad Naik will contest the North Goa seat, the BJP has introduced a new face for the South Goa seat in Narendra Savoikar.