Dakor: Widely blamed for his role during the 2002 riots, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday trained guns at the Congress for accusing him of "orchestrating" the communal violence.
"If they blame me for the 2002 Godhra riots, why don't they constantly remind you of all the riots that took place under their regime... This is completely preposterous," Modi told an election gathering of more than 10,000 people.
Clad in his quintessential 'kurta-pyjama', Modi said: "I have provided safe Gujarat to 6 crore Gujaratis. In 10 years of my rule, there have been no curfew, no riots... The Congress, in its tenture, was synonymous to riots and largescale crime.
"In my tenure, only one such case took place. But, the Congress-ruled states have witnessed infinite riots. Now, people should focus on development. My baiters are jealous of 'brand Modi' and maligning my image. But, I am seeing my victory with rose-coloured spectacles. A group of incorrigible Congress leaders can't take away Gujarat from me."
Furthermore, the firebrand leader said: "If I am proved innocent, my critics will have to apologise for tarnishing his image, while clearly stating that I am only concerned about Gujarat and its development."
On his Prime Ministerial ambitions, Modi said it is only a media speculation. "I cannot ditch the people of Gujarat. They love me so much. If god permits, I will fight next election from here only and continue to serve 6 crore Gujaratis."
Training guns at the Congress, he said, "The entire Gujarat has seen me... You know my strength and weakness . . So give me Gujarat for 5 more years.
"The development in Gujarat is being talked about all over the world. Gujaratis living abroad are coming back to their motherland... This is why the Opposition is jealous of me. Whosoever comes to Gujarat does not want to leave this beautiful state."
This time, in the high-profile Maninagar constituency, it is a direct fight between Congress candidate Shweta Bhatt and Modi. Keshubhai Patel's GPP has withdrawn its candidate from Maninagar challenging Modi. The constituency is considered to be a BJP stronghold.
Shweta is the wife of suspended IPS officer cop Sanjeev Bhatt, who had also challenged Modi's role during the riots.
Gujarat goes to polls in two phases from December 13. Results will be out on December 20. The term of the present Legislative Assembly expires in January 2013.
Photo courtesy: Ankur Tewari