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New Delhi: Narendra Modi, chief campaigner of the principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), started electioneering for the 2014 national polls in Punjab in his inimitable style with strong Hindu nationalist overtones.

At the same time, Modi said Indian youth need opportunities for employment that will in turn take the country forward.

The Gujarat chief minister showed concern on the death of an Indian prisoner, Sarabjit Singh, in Pakistan, the recent beheading of two Indian soldiers and the plight of displaced Kashmiri Hindus.

“What kind of government are they (United Progressive Alliance) running?" Modi asked a rally at Madhopur near Pathankot. “They did not take any action after the killing of Singh and they have biryani (with Pakistani diplomats in Jaipur) after beheading of soldiers."

Modi said there was need to “heal wounds" of Kashmiris and connect the young people with the national mainstream for the development of the state. “The youth in Kashmir valley want to be a part of development," he said. “Guns can spill blood but will do no good to one’s life."

This was Modi’s first public rally after being named as the head of the BJP’s election campaign committee earlier this month at the national executive meet in Goa. He is expected to hold similar rallies across the country before the general elections scheduled in May next year.

After Modi’s elevation, BJP’s oldest ally, Janata Dal (United), walked out of the National Democratic Alliance.

Modi said India is unsafe in the hands of Congress party-led UPA government. “If a country is not safe, if its people are not safe, then how will we develop this country? For the bright future of this country and youth, we have to get rid of Congress at the Centre," Modi said.

The Congress reacted sharply to Modi’s comments, which were “unfortunate and malicious," party spokesman Ajay Maken said.

“Many of his utterances, particularly references to national security should have been avoided at a juncture when our army is saving lives in Uttarakhand," Maken said. “This will demotivate our armed forces, which at this moment are single-mindedly pursuing relief operations in Uttarakhand."

Heavy rains and flash floods in the hill state of Uttarakhand last week has killed hundreds. Thousands still stranded in the upper mountain reaches are being rescued by the army and other security personnel.

“Gujarat is the best the example of development," Modi said at the rally. “Around 65% of India’s population is below the age of 35 and these youth need an opportunity. If this opportunity is given, they will take the country forward."

Modi is good at connecting dots and weaving a credible story, according to Jai Mrug, a Mumbai-based political analyst.

“He is now conscious of his mandate to brand himself as a statesman also. Therefore the emphasis on healing the wounds," Mrug said. “By saying that we have to win dals and dil (parties and hearts), he tried to signal to party workers that it’s an uphill task and he has taken it in his stride."

Sunday’s BJP rally was also to mark the 60th death anniversary of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, leader of the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a precursor to the BJP.

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal of the Shiromoni Akali Dal, an NDA ally, was present at the public meeting.

PTI contributed to this story.

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