He may not have been declared BJP's prime ministerial candidate just yet but Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today seemed to have already donned the mantle when he said the nation would be comparing his speech with that of Prime Minister on Independance Day tomorrow.
"When we unfurl the tricolour, the message will also go to Lal Quila. Nation will want to know what was said there and what is said here (in Bhuj)," Modi said addressing a gathering of youth at Bhuj in Kutch district.
"On one hand there will be a series of promises, whereas on the other there will be the account of work done. On one side there will be despair (nirasha) and on the other side hope (asha)," he said without directly mentioning the Prime Minister.
The official Independence Day function in Gujarat is being held in Bhuj where Modi will hoist the national flag.
The remarks of Modi, BJP's election campaign committee chief, drew a caustic remark from Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla, who said the Gujarat leader was "full of arrogance".
"I keep saying from day one that he is full of arrogance, full of himself. If this kind of a person gets higher in politics what he will do to the country one can understand," he said in Delhi.
Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal too attacked Modi, saying the BJP leader would be watched for "mis-statement of facts he is prone to make."
"They (the people) will probably be curious to hear what mis-statements of facts Mr Modi is now going to make. Every time he makes a speech, there are some false figures, false facts which he knows to be false like 20 per cent of GDP of China is spent on education.
"I hope he does not trivialise the national issues and make mis-statements of facts which he is prone to do while he is speaking to those who will hear him," Sibal said.
Modi also took a dig at Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi without naming him.
"When children grow up, parents advise them to settle down. But today children are telling their parents that they are not averse to marriage, but they are waiting for an opportunity to become the 'sarkari damaad'" he said in an apparent reference to Vadra.
Attacking the Centre, Modi, already in the election mode, said "its your turn to give your accounts...you will have to give account in 2014 of what you have done...and this country knows what you have done. It knows what you have done, for whom you have done and who has done. People also know how it has been done and how much it was done".
"I want to tell them (UPA) that Gujarat passed the test with distinction in December 2012 (when last assembly polls were held). Those spreading canards against the state have been rejected," he said.
"I tell them, come in 2017 (when next assembly election happens in Gujarat)...try the same thing but this time you have to answer in 2014, what did you do, the nation knows," Modi said.
He also slammed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his remark that money does not grow on trees, saying "we have grown it in Rann of Kutch".
"Did the Rann come to Kutch after I became CM ? Did you think dollars will come from the Rann? Tourists have started coming. Prime Minister says money does not grow on trees, but we have grown money in the Rann of Kutch," Modi said.
While justifying the government's decisions on FDI and diesel price hike, the Prime Minister had in September last year said the time had come for "hard decisions".
In a rare 15-minute televised address to the nation against the backdrop of the uproar over the decisions to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, Rs 5 increase in diesel price and cap on subsidized LPG cylinders he had said, "money doesn't grow on trees. If we had not acted, it would have meant a higher fiscal deficit."