A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked all secular forces to unite against him, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Wednesday said Singh was chanting the “dialogue of the ‘80s”, suggesting that the call would not find much support.
Addressing a youth conclave here, Modi also made a fresh attempt to dispel apprehensions of the Muslims, saying he would abide by the constitution and arguing that a government has no religion.
Sharing the stage with TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu for the first time, Modi projected himself as leader with novel ideas and decision-making prowess in contrast to the “indecisive” UPA government. Naidu, on his part, called for the defeat of the Congress. Both the leaders sat through the eight-hour long event organised by Citizens for Accountability and Governance.
While Naidu refrained from indicating who his party would support, amid speculation that the TDP may join hands with the BJP, he claimed that the United Front government and the NDA government had done a “very good job” during their terms. Naidu began his address by stating that “Modiji belongs to Gujarat, Gandhiji belongs to Gujarat.”
Taking on the PM, Modi said, “What the PM has said yesterday, I am surprised. It is the dialogue of the ‘80s. This is the 21st century. The nation wants development. The country wants to move forward and people want to build their future... Some people want to fool the people, but the people will see through it.”
He added that “for some people, secularism is a weapon to hoodwink the poor people”. Modi, perhaps for the first time, argued that a government has no religion.
“My definition of secularism is nation first, India first... Koi apna paraya nahin ho sakta. No votebank politics. Justice for all and appeasement of none. Poor are poor, whether they go to a mandir, masjid or gurudwara. They have no religion,” he said.