Modi plays poverty card in Kanpur - Silent on Hindutva, BJP leader harps on â€˜poorâ€™ childhood Kanpur, Oct. 19: Narendra Modi today called upon voters in Uttar Pradesh to oust the Congress, which he accused of â€œsprinkling salt on the wounds of the poorâ€ as he played up his under-privileged childhood to mock the party-led Centre. The BJPâ€™s mascot for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, however, didnâ€™t utter a word on Hindutva during his address, tailored for the stateâ€™s politically perspicacious audience that knows what to expect of putative Prime Ministers and of leaders unabashedly playing to the gallery. Modi, who kicked off his Uttar Pradesh campaign with a massive rally at Kanpur, said the battle to â€œliberateâ€ India would be â€œfought and wonâ€ in the heartland. â€œIndiaâ€™s first war of independence was fought from Uttar Pradeshâ€™s soil, from Kanpur, Meerut, Jhansiâ€¦ its leaders were born here. Now we are fighting a war to liberate India from the Congress. That will also be fought and won in Uttar Pradesh. It is a fight for â€˜surajyaâ€™, for good governance.â€ With the Congress, he added, the heartlandâ€™s voters must also â€œweed outâ€ its â€œchatte-batteâ€ (flunkeys), the ruling Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. â€œTo free themselves from their crimes, these parties seek the Congressâ€™s protection and in turn help the Congress save its government through the back door,â€ he told the crowd. This was Modiâ€™s first public appearance in Uttar Pradesh after the BJP named him as the partyâ€™s candidate for Prime Minister. Modiâ€™s address nurtured an image especially created and marketed by the RSS-BJP for the heartland audience: his hard-luck origins in a poor provincial family and his â€œcommitmentâ€ to a â€œwelfare stateâ€ born out of â€œexperienceâ€. The Gujarat chief minister mocked the food security law. â€œDo you know the quantum of grains under this law given to an able-bodied adult will be the same that it takes to feed an under-nourished child in a mid-day meal? So instead of ensuring food security, you are leaving the poor hungry. Thatâ€™s because those who are born with a golden spoon in their mouths donâ€™t know what it is to be hungry,â€ he said, before delving into his early life when he worked as a tea-stall boy. â€œI was born into poverty, I spent a childhood in poverty. That â€˜shehzadaâ€™ (prince),â€ he said, alluding to Rahul Gandhi, â€œsays poverty is a state of mind. It makes my heart ache because itâ€™s like sprinkling salt on the wounds of the poor. Worse, an MP from your state (Raj Babbar) claims you can eat a full meal for Rs 12 in a city like Mumbai. Another, whoâ€™s mercifully in jail now (Lalu Prasad), says why Rs 12, you can get a meal for Rs 5. â€œThe Planning Commission, headed by an economist Prime Minister, says anyone earning Rs 26 a day in a village is above the poverty line. God alone can protect my countryâ€™s poor at this rate,â€ Modi said to thunderous applause. He urged his audience to uproot the Congress for promises made and betrayedâ€ and â€œfor being arrogant enough to not even face up to their omissions and commissionsâ€. â€œA government may be any partyâ€™s. But a government is meant only for the poor, for their welfare and not to fatten the pockets of the rich,â€ he said, belying the ground realities in the state he rules. Gujaratâ€™s social indices on health, literacy and nutrition have been critiqued by eminent economists. But he didnâ€™t utter a word on Hindutva or issues like minority-appeasement, leaving it to speakers like Vinay Katiyar and Kalyan Singh to expatiate on the â€œperilsâ€ of minority reservation for the backward castes. For the Uttar Pradesh BJP, tense moments preceded the rally. The venue, the Buddha Park thatâ€™s slightly away from the city, was sanctioned by the administration at the last moment. This morning, a large number of buses ferrying people from rural Kanpur and neighbouring districts were stopped mid-way for no ostensible reason, sources claimed. Finally, it is learnt that BJP president Rajnath Singh requested Samajwadi boss Mulayam Singh Yadav to remove the hurdles. Within moments the place was more than packed. Modi plays poverty card in Kanpur ************************************************************* Modi drew a genuinely mammoth crowd, if what one saw on the TV is anything to go by. However, it is also a truism that the crowd does not always turn out to be an indication of what the ballot box foretells. Much to the disappointment of his detractors, Modi did not say a word on 'Hinduvta' on which the detractors could swoop down as carrion. Yet, surprisingly, Modi did take a swipe at SP and BSP. One wonders if he has forgotten that after an election, there is always a need for 'allies', or he is that confident that he will sweep into power single-handedly? Given the various polls, that does not seem to be the case. It was interesting that Modi drew on the historic importance of Kanpur in the days of 1857 and allegorically suggested that it was time for the Congress to go. He used his impoverished beginnings to the hilt and mocked "Shehzada" for photo ops in Dalit homes and stating that 'poverty is a state of mind'. The only discordant note to democratic norms was the Govt attempt to stop the crowds from coming by physically preventing them initially, though later the hurdles were removed and the rally swelled. But the main issue that is missed - Do rally strength equates into votes? That is the million dollar issue.