Modi can`t take credit for Gujarat`s development: Virbhadra

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - 19:07

New Delhi: Narendra Modi cannot claim credit for Gujarat`s development as it has always been a developed state, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said on Wednesday while asserting that the perception about `Modi magic` was just media hype.

Singh, a senior Congress leader who was a Union minister before moving to Himachal Pradesh about a year ago, said Modi is no superman as is being projected and his model of development is not worth following.

He admitted that BJP had got a "headstart" in campaigning as he started early but was of the view that Congress could make up by having an effective campaign and highlighting "facts" against Modi and finish well.

"There is no Modi wave. It is the creation of media, particularly electronic media. There is nothing extraordinary about him," he said.

"Modi is projected as some superman, which is not the fact," added the 80-year-old leader who has become the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh for the fourth time.

On Modi`s campaign that his leadership had brought development and progress in Gujarat, the Himachal Chief Minister said he was not ready to give any credit to his counterpart.

"Gujarat has always been the most developed state. There has been development since Independence. It (development) is a legacy of the past. There is no `Modi magic` as is being portrayed," Singh contended.

While questioning Modi`s claim about development, he said even the Congress Chief Ministers of Gujarat had done a lot for the progress of the state.

Taking a dig at Modi, Virbhadra Singh said there are "more suitable" and senior leaders in BJP than the Gujarat Chief Minister as far as the candidature for Prime Ministership is concerned.

Asked whether he was referring to LK Advani, he replied, "It may be Advani or others, I don`t want to name." He refused to go into this aspect further.

He noted that media has been highlighting Modi much before the announcement of elections. On whether the delay by Congress in projecting Rahul Gandhi had hurt the party`s prospects, he said, "It is never too late in politics. Although BJP started much early, it is not necessary that we cannot catch up. If we have an effective campaign, we can make an impact."

He went on to add, "Modi got a headstart. But it is immaterial as to who started first, the important part is who finishes first."

He said Congress has so far been campaigning in its traditional style but did not elaborate. "While we are using traditional ways of campaigning, Modi is using western style, the presidential style of campaigning. Congress should bring out facts and match the BJP campaign, particularly in style," Singh said.

Referring to Modi`s contention that the Gujarat model should be replicated across the country, the Himachal CM said, "What is Gujarat model? It is one of the advanced states, but it is far behind many others."

Virbhadra Singh, who had to quit as Union MSME Minister in June 2012 in the wake of corruption allegations, was asked if charges of graft during UPA`s rule had hurt the Congress.

Responding, he said, "UPA did wonderful work. Before that also, since 1947, Congress has been doing great work. What we see now is the result of persistent efforts by Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao and the Manmohan Singh governments."

The scion of Himachal Pradesh`s erstwhile royal state of Rampur Bushehar, who was later acquitted by a Himachal court in the decade-old case, added that "Congress stands for the entire nation, all the people, irrespective of caste or creed. We are not a communal party. We believe in one nation. We are always for the rights of people, particularly the minorities."
He was asked whether Priyanka Gandhi would have been a better Prime Ministerial candidate for Congress than Rahul Gandhi. "I don`t want to compare. They both have the same heritage," he replied.
On the issue of Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP leaving UPA, Singh said it would be better if all the allies remain with Congress.

PTI

First Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - 19:07

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