Kolkata: Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP poster boy Narendra Modi on Tuesday parried a question on his prime ministerial ambitions as he pitched for West Bengal’s development and blamed the Centre for neglecting the non-Congress ruled states.
“I am not a politician. I am an apolitical person,” Modi said when asked about his desire to become the prime minister of the country.
The Gujarat leader began his much-awaited interface with West Bengal industry captains by saying that the state has suffered a lot in the past 32 years due to misgovernance and said that the Centre is responsible for poor state of affairs in non-Congress ruled states.
“The central government’s work machinery is at a standstill. The UPA government at the Centre is discriminating against non-Congress governments while lending funds for development,” he said.
Cornering the UPA government, Modi said that the discrimination by the Centre is adversely affecting the development in the non-Congress ruled states, and urged them to raise their voice against the step-motherly treatment being given to them.
“Centre is discriminating against non-Congress ruled states. I see this happening with West Bengal too. It is due to the discriminatory attitude of the Centre that many states are not being able to create wealth and grow according to their potential,” Modi said.
The Gujarat leader also blamed the erstwhile Left Front government, which has created potholes in West Bengal‘s path of development in the past 32
years, and said that it will take time to fill them.
Reaching out to state’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Modi expressed confidence that West Bengal government will fulfill people`s dreams.
Speaking to industrialists in Kolkata, Gujarat leader also talked about the vibrant growth model in Gujarat.
He also took a dig at the corporate culture present in West Bengal that leads to frequent strikes and closed factories that is responsible for the state’s very low economic growth rate.
Modi’s views were received with much fervor, which is evident from fact that the gathering applauded almost all the points that he made.
Giving an example, he said when former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee led the NDA, there were no murmurs of protest ever from any state. He added that there was no discrimination against any state. “During that time, he said, there was a buzz in the air of progress and of good things to come. India expected much from the 21st century”, Modi elaborated.
"However, when the UPA came to power people can actually see the decline of India in front of our eyes. This is happening because of the UPA. The government at the Centre is hitting out at all non-UPA states. There is rampant injustice," Modi stated.
This was not ever done during NDA regime despite the BJP and Left being ideologically poles apart. Modi added theatrically, "UPA has destroyed the dreams of Indian states."
Hailing West Bengal’s contribution to the freedom struggle, the flamboyant Gujarat Chief Minister said that the state was way ahead of its times in 18th century and has the potential to contribute to nation’s economic growth.
“West Bengal has been and is the gateway to the development of north and north-east India, “he said.
The interaction between Modi, who arrived here on Monday night, and Bengal businessmen is crucial amid concerns over Bengal`s fading investment prospects after the Singur fiasco, where Modi`s Gujarat gained at Bengal`s cost, an irony which is hard to miss.
This is the charismatic-as-well-as-controversial leader`s first visit to the Trinamool Congress ruled state after being elevated to the BJP’s parliamentary board.
Modi`s visit had generated a controversy with the state BJP accusing the Banerjee administration of refusing to make the metropolis` landmark Netaji Indoor Stadium available for the party`s high-profile leader`s giant civic reception April 9.
Experts say the industry-hungry state`s economic prospects took a major hit after the turn of events in Hooghly district`s Singur, where a sustained and intense agitation by then opposition Trinamool Congress led by Banerjee forced Tata Motors to relocate its proposed small car plant to Gujarat`s Sanand in 2008.
Despite the Banerjee government`s several attempts to attract big ticket investments, entrepreneurs have so far given the state a cold shoulder.
Modi has been touring several states of late, meeting business captains and party activists, in an apparent bid to position himself for the top political role ahead of next year`s general elections.
However, his visit to the eastern metropolis assumes significance in view of constant comparisons being made over the past few months between the investment climate in Gujarat and Mamata`s Bengal, a parallel which the Bengal leader never liked.
A number of Bengal business honchos have given the Modi show a miss, as they are afraid of annoying Mamata Banerjee by being seen with the Gujarat strongman. While some industrialists have cited advance travel plans, some other big shots are taking shelter behind the oft-used excuse "major commitments".
It is also one of the first visits of Modi to a state where the BJP is a weak force. However, the BJP leadership is hoping that Modi`s visit will give a boost to the party in the state.
With Agency inputs