Rattled by AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's sharp attack on it and its leader Narendra Modi, BJP today said this only showed the party has emerged as a "viable alternative" to Dravidian majors in Tamil Nadu.
A day after Jayalalithaa mounted a scathing attack on Gujarat development model calling it a "myth", BJP National General Secretary P Muralidhar Rao reeled out some statistics to back Modi's claims, indicating that the western state was ahead of Tamil Nadu in some sectors, and said his party was ready for an "informed debate" with AIADMK. "I don't know why she has criticised (BJP and Modi). I can only infer. BJP-led NDA has emerged as a competitor and is now in the reckoning and there is a real fight (in the poll battle). That might have made her target BJP," Rao told a press conference here.
Asked why BJP did not attack Jayalalithaa in the initial days of electioneering, he said the focus was on issues concerning central government as the main intention was to unseat the Congress.
In her sharpest attack against Modi, Jayalalithaa had said her state was better placed than Gujarat in various social and economic indicators even as she accused that state government of focussed more on "marketing" itself while describing as a "myth" its development model. Rejecting this, Rao said Modi, and for that matter, other BJP-ruled states of Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh were only marketing their achievements.
In some areas, states like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were ahead of Gujarat and that state was only trying to catch up with them, he said. On Jayalalithaa's criticism that BJP was no different from Congress on the Cauvery issue, Rao recalled the NDA government under A B Vajpayee had done a lot in this regard and reaffirmed his party's commitment for river inter-linking.
BJP was equally committed for the welfare of Sri Lankan Tamils and fishermen issue, he added. Rao listed out statistics on various development parameters between 2005-06 to 2012-13 and said Gujarat was ahead in agriculture and allied sectors, industry and manufacturing among others.
For instance, the agriculture growth rate of Gujarat in 2012-13 was 8.46% while that of Tamil Nadu was 4.04% even as the former was ahead in agri and allied sector and industry sector at 7.22% and 10.64 percent as against Tamil Nadu's 4.11% and 9.69%.
Gujarat was also performing well in areas like electricity and employment in various sectors, Rao said quoting the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) records. "Statistics speak for themselves. Selective presentation of facts to distort truth is not acceptable. We want an enhanced, informed debate and BJP is ready for a debate. I am happy that BJP-led NDA is under target from Jayalalithaa as it means she is getting jittery. She has come to know of her vulnerability and the ground under her is slipping," he said. His party was ready for a debate with anyone including Congress but the latter has not taken it up. "If AIADMK is wishing, BJP is ready," he added.