Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday hit back at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel belonged to the whole nation and not a particular party and that he favoured Patel's secularism and not "votebank secularism" practiced by some parties.
Mr. Modi also attacked the Prime Minister on the issue of installing a gate on the Sardar Sarovar Dam which has been pending for a long time. He alleged that Gujarat is being discriminated against by the Centre for political reasons.
Taking on the Prime Minister for his comments on October 29 that he is proud Patel belonged to his party, Mr. Modi said, "Rana Pratap, Chhatrapati Shivaji, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru are highly respected. Were they BJP members? Will only those who belong to the BJP be given respect and honour. Country is greater than the party and those who sacrifice themselves for the country are greater." He emphasised that nobody, not even him, can deny that Patel belonged to a party but his stature was such that he is respected by all. "To associate Patel with one party will be a great injustice to Sardar sahab. We should not divide our legacy," Mr. Modi said.
BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, who was speaking at the inauguration of a project to build the tallest statue of Sardar Patel in Kevadia, also attacked Mr. Singh and the Congress on the issue of secularism.
"I would really like to honour the Prime Minister for saying that Patel was truly secular. We also say that Patel was truly secular. The country needs Patel's secularism and not votebank secularism. He was secular yet his secularism did not come in the way of building the Somnath Temple. Mr. Prime Minister, the country needs secularism that does not divide the country but unites it," Mr. Modi said.
The BJP leader alleged that despite repeated requests to the Prime Minister, the gates on Sardar Sarovar Dam have not been constructed. Indicating that this was due to politics and discrimination against Gujarat, Mr. Modi said the Centre and the Congress can take all the credit for it but should build the gate without any further delay.
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