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Describing Chief Minister Narendra Modi as "most popular" and "charismatic leader" with a mass appeal beyond Gujarat, former BJP president Rajnath Singh on Sunday appealed for "record victory".
"Congress has ditched the self-reliance principle of Gandhiji. They are carrying Gandhi surname only. The works of Gandhi are being carried forward by Narendra Modi here in Gujarat," Rajnath Singh said addressing an election meeting in Bhavnagar. Singh made these remarks while criticising the Congress-led UPA government's decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail.
"Look at the Congress, they have forgotten the domestic instruments (to revive economy) and relying on foreign help to boost the economy," Singh said.
He highlighted how Narendra Modi has maintained higher than national economic growth rate in the state despite the alleged obstruction being posed by the Congress at the Centre.
While his remarks lauding Modi for carrying forward the works of Gandhi is likely to irk the Congress, he made comments that betrayed the sense of unease within the party over Modi's rising popularity.
"Modi is popular not only in Gujarat but also across India. He is fast gaining popularity across the world now. You all must strengthen the hands of your charismatic CM. You all should ensure that Narendrabhai makes a hat-trick in these assembly elections," Singh said.
Singh, in fact, virtually presented Narendra Modi and Atal Behari Vajpayee as the two ideals for development and governance at state and national level, respectively.
"Gujarat assembly elections are going to have an impact on the culture of India as well," Singh said cryptically adding later that BJP's bid to national power hinged on its performance in Gujarat assembly elections.
While soliciting votes for the BJP candidates, the former BJP president did not dwell much into the state's local issues and trained his guns against Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for high price rise, alleged corruption during the UPA regime at Centre and the FDI in retail trade.