Narendra Modi's promise to convert Uttar Pradesh into Gujarat drew sharp reaction from Congress on Thursday as it alluded to the 2002 post-Godhra riots, warning that brotherhood and communal harmony will rupture in such an eventuality.
"We will request him with folded hands that you do not put into practise the attitude, policy and mentality of Gujarat government in any other state, otherwise development and social amity and brotherhood will be torn apart," Congress spokesperson Randip Surjewala told reporters.
Picking further on Modi's speech in Gorakhpur in which he attacked Congress, SP and BSP saying have "one master", an apparent reference to the support to the Congress government by the two UP-based parties, he said Modi should realise that nation building does not happen through political mudslinging.
"Denigrating and denouncing political opponents or parties by phraseology and slogans is not a way forward for the country. It is an old habit of Modi to ridicule political opponents with sarcastic barbs. Instead, he should come out with solid programmes," he said.
Responding to Modi's remarks that train travellers felt much safer when they entered Gujarat, Union minister Manish Tewari said, "Insofar as trains leaving Uttar Pradesh and coming through Gujarat are concerned, I think this country has not forgotten a train which left Ayodhya, what happened to it when it reached Gujarat and the subsequent aftermath of the destruction and the mayhem which then ensued." Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed said trains going to Gujarat from Gorakhpur also passed through BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. "If Modi considers chief ministers of these two-BJP ruled states as incompetent, I have nothing to say."
Senior Congress minister Kapil Sibal sought to paint a bleak picture on the issue of corruption in the BJP-ruled states including Gujarat.
"In Gujarat, Babulal Bokharia has been convicted but Modi did not throw him out of the state cabinet... BJP has brought BS Yeddyurappa back and Modi is silent about it. Legislators were found involved in land grab deals. What Modi said about that," he asked.
Claiming that Modi and BJP preside over an "empire of corruption", Sibal wondered how can the BJP even make allegations against the Congress on the issue of corruption asking which of its ministers has been convicted or in jail.
He alleged that 22 BJP legislators were involved in land grab deals in Karnataka, and in Madhya Pradesh, the Lokayukta has complained that the state government is not forwarding documents even as he wants to start proceedings against 10 BJP ministers.
"Why is the BJP and Modi silent on this matter? Look at the plots that have been given by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to members of his family at throw-away prices.
"Nobody talks about that. What about this Saraswati Shishu Mandir. They have been given plots across the state. Nobody talks about that," he said.
About Gujarat, Sibal said another minister Purushottam Solanki was 'prosecuted' under Prevention of Corruption Act but no action was taken by the BJP government against them.
Shakeel Ahmed said that he does not think that Modi's dreams will fructify including "his biggest dream" of becoming Prime Minister.