Vadodara: Senior NCP leader Praful Patel on Monday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the comments he had made on forthcoming election of the Congress president while addressing a poll rally in Gujarat on Sunday.

“Narendra Modi commented on infighting in the Congress, which was unwarranted. He had termed the election (of Congress president) as a tussle between Shezad and Shahzada," Patel told reporters. Addressing a rally, Modi had said that if one doesn’t have democracy in his home (party), how can the person practice it in the country.

Modi also said that the outcome of the election to the top post in the Congress is a foregone conclusion. “A youth called Shezad (Poonawala), who is a (Congress) party worker, has raised questions over the process of the election and alleged that it is being rigged," the PM had said. Patel said the Sharad Pawar-led party is contesting 58 out of the total 182 seats in Gujarat elections, to be held in two phases on 9 and 14 December.

The senior leader said had the Congress sealed a pre-poll alliance with the NCP in Gujarat, the chances of the BJP’s victory would have become remote. The NCP and the Congress had fought state assembly polls in an alliance in 2002 and 2007. The tie-up couldn’t materialize this time as the Congress was livid with the NCP over its two MLAs in Gujarat purportedly voting for a BJP candidate against Ahmed Patel in Rajya Sabha election this year.

Patel said the BJP was losing the ground in Gujarat since the emergence of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, who represent Patidars, OBCs and Dalits, respectively. “After Modi’s ascension to Delhi in 2014, the BJP failed to retain power in most of district and tehsil panchayats that went to polls, which reflected resentment against the saffron party," Patel said.

Attacking the prime minister, Patel said Modi was “maintaining silence" on the matters concerning the common people while raking up the “son of the soil" issue in Gujarat. Patel was referring to Modi’s emotional appeals to the people of the state during canvassing. “Modi should have talked about issues like farmer distress, atrocities on Dalits, discrimination against minorities, plight of small and medium scale industries, adverse impact of GST and demonetisation etc," the NCP leader said.

Taking a jibe at the BJP for drafting in senior union ministers for the poll campaign, Patel said this reflects “nervousness" in the saffron party and that “parivartan" (transformation) is imminent in Gujarat.

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