New Delhi: Livid over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘veil of secularism’ remark, the Congress on Monday launched a scathing attack against him by questioning his development works in Gujarat. Party spokesperson Ajay Maken said that Gujarat’s growth story was nothing but a ‘farce’.

“When Modi talks of UPA's performance, he should compare it with that in the NDA tenure and his own performance in Gujarat. In 2011-12, Gujarat spent 13.9 percent on education and still the state ranked 14th in India,” Maken said, adding that in Gujarat, dropout rates in schools are 57 percent, far above national average.

Earlier, other senior Congress leaders had also lashed out at BJP’s poll campaign panel chief Modi for saying that the party in power at the Centre hides behind the ‘burqa’ (veil) of secularism whenever it is struck by a crisis.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh hit out at Modi and asked him to explain his definition of secularism.  “According to the RSS and BJP leader Advaniji, one religion, one culture, one nation is the definition of secularism. Modi should explain what his definition of secularism is," Digvijay said.

Information and Broadcasting Minister, Manish Tewari said that the choice before people was an inclusive India or an India which is sectarian. "The cloak of secularism is all pervasive. It envelopes Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains-people of all faiths, while the veils of communalism are extremely sectarian. They believe, in their language people whom they qualify as 'kutte ka bachcha', which you (media) translated as puppies, should be crushed under the wheels of communalism," he told reporters.

Meanwhile, Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma, known for his controversial remarks, termed the Gujarat Chief Minister a ‘mad dog’. “It is the responsibility of country's people for not letting any mad dog to pollute the temple of democracy," said Beni.

Taking similar lines, Congress leader Shakil Ahmad tweeted, "The veil of secularism is much better than their (BJP's) communalism. Communalism divides the country."

Earlier, addressing a rally in Pune on Sunday, Modi had launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the downturn in economy, falling rupee and corruption while accusing Congress of hiding behind a veil of secularism to cover its failures.

He also attacked Congress vice-president, Rahul Gandhi on the issue of his party's ‘failure’ to eradicate poverty and alleged that it was raising the bogey of ‘threat to secularism’ to throttle people's aspirations.    

"Look minutely, whenever Congress is faced with a challenge- weather is corruption, price rise, directives from the Supreme Court, or a minister being jailed, or the rape of girls or an atmosphere of insecurity- they do not answer the people. The moment there is a crisis, they wear the 'burqa' (veil) of secularism and hide in a bunker," Modi said.

BJP has often charged the Congress with engaging in minority appeasement for vote bank politics. Modi said that Congress follows this act by insisting that one should not talk about poverty or corruption or price rise at this juncture as ‘secularism is in danger’. He charged that Congress has done this for decades.
 
The BJP leader said that Congress will not be able to throttle the aspirations and hopes of the people in the name of secularism any longer. "Congress will no longer be able to keep the poor hungry or the young unemployed or distance itself when a girl is raped. Now this medicine will not work," Modi said.
      
Though Modi attacked the Prime Minister for failing to check the fall of the rupee despite being an expert on economics, he was more scathing on Rahul Gandhi.
       
Without naming Gandhi, Modi said that the ‘heir’ spends nights in the homes of the poor and shows this to the media and foreigners as ‘remnants of the past’ when 35 years back Congress had given the slogan of removing poverty.

(JPN/Agencies)

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