Accusing Narendra Modi of engaging in "politics of lies", Union Minister Kapil Sibal today challenged BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate to a debate as he stated that political discourse should move from individuals to issues affecting the country.
And, as BJP quickly responded to Sibal's challenge, saying Arun Jaitley was ready to debate him, the Union Minister said he would take on Jaitley when he also became a Prime Ministerial candidate.
He is challenging Modi to a debate as it was the Gujarat Chief Minister who was spreading lies against UPA, Sibal said.
Slamming Modi, whom he referred to as the "perennial opponent" (Nirantar Virodhi) without, however, taking his name, Sibal accused him of spreading untruths about UPA.
He sought to puncture the BJP's leader's repeated refrain that Congress had destroyed the country.
"I am sorry that the issues which should be discussed are not being discussed... They (BJP) do not have issues. Hence they only talk about individuals... One person can neither make nor is going to make the future of the country."
"The country's future is decided by policies and not allegations. Unfortunately, for some days, such an atmosphere has been made that the talk is more about individuals than about issues," Sibal said.
Releasing a bunch of papers to show that UPA had performed better than the BJP-led NDA government in terms of GDP growth, increasing per capita income, bringing FDI into the country and so on, Sibal said that if the above meant destroying India, then BJP should remain permanently in opposition so that the country may progress.
Wondering why Modi did not address press conferences, Sibal alleged the Gujarat Chief Minister wanted a controlled audience so that he can get away with his untruths.
He also ridiculed the BJP leader over his "gaffes" regarding history during his Patna rally, saying, "He does not know that Alexander never reached the Ganges, that Chandragupta Maurya did not belong to Gupta dynasty and that Taxila is in Pakistan and not in Patna. How can somebody, who does not know history, create history. Surprised which history book he read."
Sibal also attacked Modi over BJP's alliance with Shiv Sena to question his affection for people from Bihar.
"If he has so much affection for people from Bihar, he should snap ties with Shiv Sena because they do not want Biharis to live in Maharashtra," Sibal said.
Taking a dig at Modi, Sibal said the BJP leader never addresses press conferences.
"He only delivers a speech and goes way... He wants a controlled environment," he said, adding that he had never seen the Gujarat Chief Minister smile.
"Have you seen him smile. I have never seen him smile. He is always acrimonious," the minister said.
The Congress leader also took a swipe at Modi over his remarks at a rally that China spends 20 per cent of its GDP on education, saying that the facts were different as the country allocates only 4 per cent of its GDP under that head.
Going poetic, he read out a few lines of verse, which implied that while lies have been sold out, there was no buyer at the shop of truths.
He said that while the average agricultural growth was 1.84 per cent under NDA, it jumped to 3.43 per cent during the UPA regime. Similarly, while the average fiscal deficit under NDA stood at 5.32 per cent, the UPA government had seen that dip to 4.68 per cent, he added.
"On average revenue deficit, the figure in NDA's rule was 4 per cent, but in UPA's tenure it slid to 3.14 per cent... The average savings rate was 25.64 per cent under NDA but increased to 33.02 per cent with UPA," he said, claiming that UPA's achievements were "mind-boggling".
Belting out more comparative data, the Law Minister said that the average investment rate was 25.16 per cent under NDA, but had risen to 35.44 per cent during UPA's time in power.
While industrial growth was 5.64 per cent under NDA, the same increased to 7.5 per cent between 2004 and 2013 with UPA at the helm.
Similarly, the average growth in services sector was 7.68 per cent during the NDA regime, but increased to 9.65 per cent under UPA, he said.
Referring to the proposed 'Statue of Unity' being built in Gujarat, Sibal said the sense of unity "should be in the hearts... Apologise for the wrongs you did."
His reference was likely to the 2002 riots in Gujarat.
Sibal also seemed to suggest that blackmoney was being used in Modi's campaign and demanded a probe into it.
"Rs 10 to 15 crore is spent on stadiums. It should be investigated as to what kind of money is used to fund (the rallies)," he told the media while launching his personal website here.
Sibal said, "he (Modi) has made speeches from podiums, cameras around you. Showing of beautiful stadiums.
"If you really want to bring back blackmoney - and that should be the case as Advaniji always says - then the Rs 10 to 15 crore is spent on stadiums. There should be a debate. It should be investigated as to what kind of money is used to fund (the rallies)," he said.
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