Narendra Modi takes Manmohan Singh head on

Bhuj, Gujarat: Pitching himself firmly as BJP's prime ministerial candidate even before being formally anointed, Narendra Modi on Thursday launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on national security and challenged him to a public debate on governance, saying the nation is 'restless for change'.

He also slammed the Prime Minister for India's 'weak and feeble' response to provocations from Pakistan and China and attacked him over a variety of issues ranging from corruption to the Centre's flagship food security bill.

Read: Leaders should not criticise others on I-Day: Advani

Read: Nitish takes a dig at Modi formula

Modi, who had on Wednesday said the nation would compare his speech with the Prime Minister's on Independance day, repeatedly referred to President Pranab Mukherjee's address to the nation last evening to flag concerns about national security and lauded the President.

"The President says patience has limits. What is the limit, where is the border line? It has to be decided by the government in Delhi. How long will we be patient?

"The question is not of Pakistan alone. Today, national security is under threat. The Chinese intrude into our land and we keep mum. When Italian soldiers come and kill our fishermen, when Pakistanis behead our soldiers, we get concerned," Modi said in his Independence Day address at a college in Bhuj.

Modi, BJP's election campaign committee chief, deplored that Prime Minister's Independence Day speech did not have a tough message for Pakistan.

"I know the constraints of the Prime Minister due to imperatives of international relations, the need for having good relations with neighbours. Lal Quila is not a place to challenge Pakistan but it is definitely a place from where the morale of Indian army can be raised," he said.

DC poll: Who delivered a better I-Day speech? PM or Modi?

Modi focused on three issues in his speech: rooting out corruption, education for the masses and providing employment. He said objectives should be high even if the pace is slow.  

Sushma too attacks PM for omitting non-Cong PMs

Joining Modi in attacking PM, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj tweeted, "Dr Manmohan Singh referred to four Prime Ministers who contributed to the making of India - all from Cong party. He forgot even Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri there."

"The contribution of  Shri Morarji Desai and  Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been no less. This partisan approach does not go with the solemnity of this great occasion," she added on the micro-blogging site.

In his extempore speech in Hindi, Modi rebutted Singh on several issues and said the "nation is restless for change".

"I had expected the Prime Minister to do something that would boost the confidence of our jawans, to give our army the strength, but regretably that did not happen. I share the concern voiced by Rashhtrapatiji in his address to the nation," Modi said.

Mukherjee had voiced his concern over the killing of five Indian soldiers on August six by Pakistan Army along the Line of Control in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir. The President had also warned Pakistan that 'patience has limits' and that all necessary steps will be taken to ensure internal security and protect territorial integrity.

Taking forward his political battle, Modi dared the Prime Minister to a public debate on governance and development.

"You are ruling a big country, we are managing a small state. I challenge the Prime Minister to a debate on the issue of development and good governance. A contest between the government sitting in Delhi and Gujarat," he said.

Targeting the PM repeatedly for his speech at the Red Fort, Modi said, "I am wondering that despite your name being included among those who have unfurled the tri-color on maximum occasions, you are saying the same things which were said by Pandit Nehru in his first address to our nation."

"The same problems and concerns are highlighted by you today which were mentioned by Nehru in his first speech. The question arises what did you do for the past 60 years," he asked.

"Mr Prime Minister, you have referred to former Prime Minister Narsimha Rao while talking about the prevailing economic conditions of the country. But I want to ask you who is responsible for the way our Rupee is getting devalued, the way it is heading towards crisis," he said.

"Suppose we don't immediately fix the responsibility, but at least you could have told the nation how you will strengthen the rupee, what economic steps would be taken. Instead you blamed it on global recession and said India cannot be left untouched by global recession," Modi said.

Referring to concerns raised by Mukherjee on corruption, Modi said, "President of India has expressed his deep concern over corruption, he expressed his pain over it yesterday in his speech. It would had been better if something was spoken on corruption from the Red Fort as well."

"Priministerji, it is your first duty to respect the feelings and concerns of Rashtrapatiji, but this did not happen today," he said. "Why can't we launch a war against corruption and attack the roots of corruption. Doesn't the country need an answer?" he asked.

"Will the countrymen not seek a reply to it? I don't want to talk in political language, but I want to say that corruption is the core issue before the nation..its our country's pain, its agony," he said.

"Nepotism used to be the core of corruption in olden days' tv serials... with passage of time it has changed, a new TV serial of Mama & Bhanja came in corruption and now its moving towards a serial of Saas, Bahu and Damaad," he said.

"Our country is getting destroyed by corruption and those ruling the country, their families are neck deep into it (corruption). Until the Supreme Court raps them, they continue to remain mum and continue managing it," Modi alleged apparently targeting the Gandhi family.


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