Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today kicked off his Bharatiya Janata Party's campaign for the assembly polls in December, challenging the Congress to battle it on the issue of development and not by using the Central Bureau of Investigation to target him.
Modi, who is serving his third term, started his campaign with a rally at the temple town of Bahucharaji in north Gujarat's Mehsana district and later launched the first of a series of yatras that will take him to various parts of the state.
Addressing the rally, Modi said, "We need to awaken with our dreams and move forward. Gujarat wants peace, prosperity."
Attacking the Congress, Modi said, "Leaders of the Congress party have declared that they will oppose me wherever I will go. This country is a democracy and it is election time. Have they lost patience that they can't hear someone?"
In a thinly veiled threat, he added, "Do you want Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh to be opposed when they come to Gujarat (for campaigning)?"
"Why practice the politics of opposition? I have the right to express my thoughts, you (Congress) also have the right do so, my government can even provide you with all the help that you need for the same," Modi said.
BJP national leaders Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh and many top functionaries of the Gujarat BJP were present on the occasion.
Modi's yatra, the first of the campaign, officially called the 'Vivekananda Yuva Vikas Yatra' began on a day when spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda made his historic speech at the Chicago Conference of World Religions, 119 years ago in 1893. The yatra will cover all 182 assembly constituencies.
Bahucharaji has been chosen as the starting point of the yatra as Maruti will construct its new car plant near the temple town.
Modi's yatra will travel through various places in north Gujarat, including Modhera, Chanhasma, Dhinoj, Jotana, Kadi and Thol. It will conclude at Sanand near Ahmedabad, where the Tata Nano plant is located.
He will use the same "rath" that veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani used for his anti-corruption 'Jan Chetna Yatra' in 2011.