Narendra Modi hoists his own flag, delivers campaign speech on I-Day

ModiGujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at the 67th Independence day celebrations in Bhuj. (PTI photo)

Positioning himself as his party's prime ministerial candidate without waiting for a formal BJP announcement, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today stepped up his attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a range of issues, especially national security.

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He challenged Singh to a public debate on governance, saying the nation was "restless for change".

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In his 50-minute Independence Day speech in Bhuj, Modi did not name Singh but addressed him as Pradhan Mantri 49 times and aap or aapne 46 times.

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"Aap ek parivar ki bhakti mein itna doob gaye ho ki desh ki 125 crore ki janata ko bhool gaye ho (You are so busy in the service of one family that you have forgotten 125 crore people of the country)," Modi said, alluding to the Gandhi family while taking a swipe at Singh.

Describing the Prime Minister's speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort as "uninspiring", he accused him of being silent on the issues of inflation, jobs for youth, power outage in "19 states", and promises made by UPA-I in 2004.

"In his address to the nation last evening, the President said he was sad at the way Parliament was functioning. I understand the President's concern since the Prime Minister's own party has not been allowing Parliament to function," Modi said.

 "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." 

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