New Delhi: The 2014 general elections should not be reduced to a contest between Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of the BJP and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, a union minister said Wednesday.
"Do not reduce national elections to contest of personalities. This is not a choice between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi," Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh a TV channel in an interview.
"We are a party-based parliamentary form of democracy. Parties compete with one another on the basis of their manifestoes, their ideologies, the performance, the sentiments. Yes, leaders are important, leaders provide directions, leaders give shape, architecture to a strategy," he said.
Ramesh, a party strategist, said Gandhi`s style of working was different from Modi`s as the Congress vice president keeps a low profile.
"The fact of the matter is we have a Congress vice president who is active, who is hands on. We don`t need to project anybody," he said.
Ramesh criticised Modi`s style of campaigning and said the Congress was not like that.
"We are going not like Mr. Narendra Modi is going, saying I.I.I. Me.Me.Me.I am your Ali Baba. I am the guy who has got your `jadu ki chhadi` (magic wand). I am the guy who is going to take you across and deliver all the great things you have been dreaming of. That`s not our strategy," he said.
Gandhi is not like Modi, he said.
"The Congress has a galaxy of leaders and Rahul is an important leader who discharges his duties," he said.
Taking a dig at the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh, Ramesh termed the Muzzafarnagar communal riots horrendous.
At least 38 people have died in the riots which have exposed the state government.
"The Muzaffarnagar tragedy is horrendous...No question, there has been a complete failure of responsibility on part of the state government," he said.
According to Ramesh, either the chief minister or a minister from the state government should have been in Muzaffarnagar.
"None of them have been there. It is primarily a responsibility of the state government," Ramesh said.
He denied that Gandhi did not feel for what happened there.
"Has Narendra Modi issued a statement, has Akhilesh Yadav issued a statement, has Mulayam Singh Yadav issued a statement?" he asked.
Ramesh denied that the Congress was being soft towards the Samajwadi Party and said there was no pre-poll alliance with the party.