New Delhi: Setting the stage for a likely national role in the BJP, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi Sunday hit out at the Congress, terming it a termite even as party leaders emphasised unity, discipline and clean image for success in the upcoming elections.
Modi, seen by many in the BJP as the party's prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, accused the Nehru-Gandhi family of keeping its interests above that of the country and termed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a "night watchman" in his warmly-applauded speech at the two-day national council meeting here that ended Sunday.
Senior leader L.K. Advani, too, lauded Modi but also showered praise on Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. He also praised party leader Sushma Swaraj's speech, virtually comparing her oratorical skills to that of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
In his address, Rajnath Singh cautioned party leaders against speaking out of turn before TV cameras and emphasised that they should abide by discipline.
Modi mainly spoke on national issues as he attacked the Congress and its top leadership repeatedly.
"The government in Delhi is a challenge to BJP workers. Such a government exists while we are there... this is not acceptable to us. Price rise is killing the poor," Modi said.
"The Congress just does not have the spirit to take the country forward. Other countries have overtaken us. It has sacrificed interests of the country to that of one family," he said.
Exhorting party workers to strive to unseat the Congress in the next general elections, Modi sought to downplay his own role as a possible prime ministerial candidate.
"Who is the person, who is not does not matter in the BJP," he said, while giving credit for his third straight victory in Gujarat to party workers, the state's people and the party's national leadership.
Training his guns on the Gandhi family, he claimed that the Congress had appointed Sitaram Kesri as party president so that no one emerges as a threat to "the family".
"It appeared that a night watchman had been put in place," Modi said, adding that when the turn came to chose a prime minister after 2004 polls, another "night watchman" was appointed.
"They did not know that the night will last this long," he said referring to Manmohan Singh completing nine years in office.
Modi claimed that the political future of those who can emerge as threat to the family is finished.
He said that if Pranab Mukherjee had been made prime minister, the country would not have suffered as much. "Had Pranab been successful, what would have happened to the family... Hence the tradition of night-watchman."
Noting that leaders like V.P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar, and I.K. Gujral could become prime ministers only after they left the Congress, he said: "Congress is like a termite."
"People of the country have decided to uproot the Congress... Getting rid of Congress is a patriotic job, the same work that was done to get freedom. The way swaraj (self-governance) came, su-raj (good governance) will also come," Modi asserted.
Chouhan, who spoke before Modi, detailed his goverment's achievements.
Advani, in his concluding remarks, emphasised that the party should not compromise with corruption.
Quipping that he got a complex about his ability to speak after listening to Vajpayee, he told Sushma Swaraj that she created the "same complex" in him.
In his written speech, Advani talked of the need to change the "mutual equation" between the BJP and minorities but skipped the reference in his oral speech.
Sushma Swaraj said the party had lost in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand due to groupism and called upon party workers to take the council's message of "Sushasan sankalp, BJP vikalp (Good governance is the determination, BJP is the alternative)" to each household in the country.