New Delhi: Narendra Modi on Wednesday hit back at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for questioning his secular credentials saying he was talking "the language of the 1980s".

He also accused the government of not reading the pulse of the nation. "Otherwise, it would not have committed the mistake of bringing an Ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers," Modi said.

"For some people, secularism is a small tool to throw dust into the eyes of the public. I am surprised at the dialogue of the Prime Minister said during his return from America. These are dialogues of the 1980s. This is the 21st century. Today, people need development...they need to build their futures," he said to an applause from college students at a function in New Delhi.

Citing a Hindi proverb, ‘Jootey bhi khaye, pyaz bhi khaye’ (suffered beating by shoes and also forced to eat onions), he said that the government was destined to suffer double jeopardy.

"In between, the Prime Minister's also lost his turban,” he said, while making a reference to Rahul Gandhi's attack on the government on the Ordinance on convicted lawmakers when he was abroad.

The Gujarat Chief Minister said that the Prime Minister also ‘lost his voice in America’ after the public denouncement of the government on the Ordinance. "This nation needs cleansing of politics. This nation needs a clean government," he said.

PM asks secular forces to join hands against Modi

Cautioning the nation against the ‘onslaught’ of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on Tuesday asked all secular forces to come together against him and expressed the hope that people will vote against BJP by realizing what they are up for.

"I sincerely hope all secular forces will combine to face the onslaught of people like Mr Narendra Modi. You will see that will happen when people realize what they are up for," he said on his return from abroad.

Modi said that for him the definition of secularism was "Nation first, India first". "There is nothing bigger than taking a decision that is in India's benefit. Justice for all, appeasement of none. No vote-bank politics," he said. He also added that governments have only one religion and one 'dharma’ - and that was ‘India first’.

"There is only one Dharmagranth (religious book) of any government and that is our Constitution. There is only one prayer - bharat bhakti. The only strength of the government is its 125 crore people and there should be no discrimination against anyone," Modi said.

The Gujarat Chief Minister also lauded the nation of the youth which he termed as "the nation of the youngest in the world".

Replying to a question on banning criminal candidates, he said that the Supreme Court has removed the tension from the minds of the youth who would no longer vote for a candidate with criminal records.

In an attempt to connect with the youth, Modi also indulged in a dialogue with them saying he would prefer not to give a political speech. Modi also talked about empowerment of women and the youth power of the country saying this can bring about a drastic change in India's fate.

He said that the youth is not ready to accept corruption in the country and favoured use of technology to help bring in transparency in the system. He cited the example of a check-post on the national highway, connecting Delhi to Mumbai. He said that due to use of technology Gujarat was earning Rs 600 crore more than Maharashtra, even when both the states were charging equal taxes on the same number of vehicles plying on different sides of the highway.

Modi also asked the youth to get themselves registered as voters and bring about a change in the country.

(Agencies)

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