New Delhi: BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Sunday hit out at Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for describing his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh as a "dehati aurat" (rural woman).
Calling it "a serious issue", a visibly agitated Modi told a Bharatiya Janata Party rally here that Sharif made the remark during a meeting with Indian and Pakistani journalists in New York.
"How dare you say this?" Modi said, raising his voice. "What right you have to say this?"
Modi said that while he was willing to take on Manmohan Singh within the country, he would not tolerate any attack on the Indian prime minister by a foreigner.
"There can never be a greater insult to the Indian PM. There cannot be a greater insult to India," he said of Sharif's reported remark.
And as the crowds roared, Modi added: "We will not tolerate any insult to India."
Modi's comments came hours before Manmohan Singh and Sharif are set to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The BJP leader said Sharif's description of Manmohan Singh as a "dehati aurat" had caused him great grief.
He added that the reason Sharif "insulted" Manmohan Singh was because the Indian prime minister was not being respected by his own Congress party.
Modi cites South Korea, China to extol soft power
Modi Sunday said both South Korea and China had utilised the hosting of the Olympic Games to "brand" themselves and project their "soft power" while India lost the chance by bungling in the organisation of the Commonwealth Games and making it a major scandal.
He said projection of soft power to brand a country has become much more important today than projecting military or economic strength.
"South Korea by hosting the Olympics showed what they are made of. They branded their country through the mega show. China did the same. China has already shown their military and economic power, but by hosting Olympics, they showcased their sports power too. They showcased their soft power by hosting the Games and showed their might," Modi said at a mega rally in north Delhi.
But, he said, India lost the opportunity when it hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
"We have lost the opportunity to brand India. We have harmed our country for the next 20 years," he said, adding that the mega show was marred by charges of mass corruption.
While the Olympics were held in 1988 in South Korea, China hosted these in 2010.
The concept of soft power was propounded by Oseph Nye of Harvard University to describe the ability of nations to attract and co-opt rather than coerce, use force or give money to influence other nations and peoples.
Modi attacks Congress govts at Delhi, Centre
Modi took a dig at Congress for running governments within governments, both at Delhi and at the Centre.
Modi speaking to large crowds said there is a government of the mother and the government of the son in Delhi and at the national level there are even more governments within the government, suggesting that each department had become a government in itself.
He claimed the coalition under Atal and Advani functioned smoothly while the UPA alliance with its allies are falling apart.
He targeted Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and claimed that for every failure she blamed some one else. Pointing out the CWG scam, he further attacked the Delhi govt.
Modi arrived at the venue in a helicopter, according to some reports.
With the rally named 'Vikas rally' (development rally), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are hoping that Modi's charisma will give the deeply divided party a much needed boost, in a state where it has been trounced in the last three elections- 1999, 2003 and 2008.
The organisers claimed that at least 5 lakh people are at the venue - a park in north Delhi's Rohini. Special arrangements have been made by Delhi Metro for crowd management on the metro line connecting the venue, Japanese park in Rohini.
"DMRC's crowd management procedures will be in place today (Sunday) to tackle the rush effectively," a Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) spokesperson said.
According to the state cadre of BJP, extra feeder buses and nearly 300 e-rickshaws had been arranged to ferry people from metro station to the rally ground.
Over 4,000 buses had also been arranged to carry supporters to the venue, while LED screens at nearly 20 locations across the city will telecast the rally for those who are not able to reach directly.
Nitin Gadkari, incharge for Delhi's elections, and leaders from state BJP and Modi's close aide Amit Shah are among the attendants at the rally.
A special helipad had been created at the rally venue for Modi's arrival.