Surat/Ahmedabad (IANS) A confident Prime MinisterManmohan Singh on Sunday evening said his Congress party expects to improve its tally from Gujarat in the Lok Sabha elections, and took a dig at the Narendra Modi government for claiming credit for the state’s economic progress.
“The BJP’s divisive politics is unlikely to work now. The Congress in Gujarat is expected to win more seats. The UPA (Congress-led United Progressive Alliance) has spent its five best years in office doing excellent work for the country,” Mr. Manmohan Singh said at a rally in Surat.
Of 26 Lok Sabha seats from Gujarat, the Congress had won 12 in 2004, giving a shock to the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), which could manage to win only 14, down from its previous tally of 21.
Polling will be held in Gujarat April 30.
Mr. Manmohan Singh said the UPA government has taken several measures to keep the Indian economy on track despite global recessionary conditions.
No government in New Delhi had done more than the UPA in keeping the country’s economic health in fairly good shape during economic slowdowns, he said.
He reiterated that the UPA had provided a fair share of funds to Gujarat during its rule and there had been a sizeable chunk of funds which went for various developmental schemes during the last five years.
The Surat rally was held amid unprecedented security and no mobile phones were allowed at the venue.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Manmohan Singh’s first election meeting in Gujarat, at Ahmedabad, was briefly disrupted when a young man, identified as Hitesh Chauhan, flung a shoe towards the podium. The footwear fell far too short of the podium but the young man was immediately nabbed and taken by the police for questioning..
In Ahmedabad, the prime minister said: “There is no need for the BJP to keep talking in public forums about Gujarat’s development during its rule as the state was considered developed well before the party came to power in Gujarat.”
The BJP government in the state led by Modi has often claimed credit for the industrial development and continued foreign investments in the state, but the Congress argues that Gujarat had been in the forefront of economic progress well before the BJP came to power in the mid-1990s.
“The state now has an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and other centrally funded educational institutions,” Singh pointed out.
Referring to the India-US nuclear agreement, Mr. Manmohan Singh said his government had signed the deal to generate more electricity and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had been opposing it without looking into its merits.
Criticising the main opposition, Singh referred to the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani’s statement promising to raise the income tax limit to Rs.300,000 if the NDA was voted to power. The prime minister said the NDA could not raise the income tax limit to that amount when it was in power.
He said the UPA government had gone for sweeping tax reforms, not only raising the income tax limit for a large category of taxpayers but also for senior citizens.
He also listed the achievements of his government, including the loan waiver worth Rs.71,000 crore for distressed farmers.