Accepting the challenge for a face-off with Modi, a combative Kejriwal said AAP wanted him to contest against him but he would hold a rally at Varanasi on March 23 and would go by people's response, indicating a final decision hinged on it. (Agencies)
"I will go to Varanasi on March 23. We will have a rally in Varanasi. Whatever people of Varanasi will say that will be final. If people of Varanasi decide to give me this responsibility, I will accept it wholeheartedly," the AAP leader told a rally.
Kejriwal's announcement, still with a tinge of suspense, came a day after the BJP top bass announced the name of Modi for Varanasi, where a set party veteran Murli Manohar Joshi has yielded to the Gujarat strongman after days of reported hard bargaining.
"I have not come here for victory or defeat. We have come here for struggle. I accept this challenge," said Kejriwal, as he wound up his two-day visit to Karnataka, where AAP is aiming big contesting all the 28 Lok Sabha seats.
Pouring out scorn and vitriol on Modi and tearing into his development model, he also ridiculed Gujarat Chief Minister over reports that he would contest from another seat in his home state, apart from Varanasi.
"...if he does it, it will be like he is leader of Gujarat but not fit to be Prime Minister of the country," he said.
Kejriwal said, "....he has to contest from one seat. Contesting from two seats… doubt will certainly arise in the minds of people as to why he is searching for a safe seat."
"We want a brave Prime Minister. Do we after-all want a Prime Minister who is looking for a safe seat," the AAP leader said ridiculing Modi, against whom he has scaled up the attack after his recent visit to Gujarat. Kejriwal, whose party leaders had earlier indicated that he may challenge Modi, said "...friends, there was meeting within the party. The party told me that I have to fight elections against Narendra Modi."
He said AAP had given him ticket "but party giving ticket is not important to me. The day people of this country give ticket to me, I will fight against Narendra Modi."
Acknowledging that fighting Modi was a "big challenge", Kejriwal said the Gujarat Chief Minister had to be defeated. "I know it is a big challenge. I know it is not a small challenge. We are not here for power or money. We have come here to sacrifice our lives for the country.....I feel I'm blessed if I get an opportunity to sacrifice my life for the country as Baghat Singh did", he said.
He said, "I have not come here for victory or defeat. We have come here for struggle. I accept this challenge." Accusing Modi of representing ‘old style crony capitalists’ of the country, Kejriwal said, "Modi travels in a helicopter, gives speeches and leaves."
Referring to his recent Gujarat visit when he tried in vain to meet Modi without appointment with elements of drama, he said he was stopped by 1,000 policemen five kms away. "Why is Modi so scared of me?"
Kejriwal hit out at BJP for taking back former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, despite corruption charges against him, and said he would be made Telecom Minister if Modi became the Prime Minister.
Similarly, he said, B Sriramulu, a one-time close associate of mining baron and now jailed Janardhana Reddy, who was re-induced into BJP, would be made the Mining Minister and Amit Shah facing allegations over snooping on a woman Home Minister under Modi.
Also attacking Rahul Gandhi, Kejriwal alleged he and Modi were being funded by RIL chief Mukhesh Ambani in the elections to gain control of government irrespective of whoever wins.
While flaying Modi, Kejriwal again targeted the media for not presenting the real picture about Gujarat. "Why is media lying? Why has the media lied to the people of this country about Gujarat?"
"Modi's words are white lies, he lies openly, and media shows it and they don't question him. If I tell something.....they (the media) show that Arvind has taken two bed room house, three bed room house..... show on media where farmers are committing suicide (in Gujarat)."
"They (the media) don't show that. They don't show truth about Gujarat; I would like to ask the media why it has been lying about Gujarat for about a year now. Why has it done a false propaganda about Gujarat for the last one year..."
"Whatever happened so far has happened. Still there is a month's time for elections. Will the media display courage in showing truth about Gujarat from today...," he asked.
Accepting the challenge for a face-off with Modi, a combative Kejriwal said AAP wanted him to contest against him but he would hold a rally at Varanasi on March 23 and would go by people's response, indicating a final decision hinged on it.