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Modispeak: How 'Jersey cow' turned Soniaji

JANYALA SREENIVAS

Posted: May 27, 2005 at 0935 hrs IST

Not very long ago, he created a political storm by calling Sonia Gandhi names like ‘Italy ki beti’ and ‘Jersey cow’—and worse. But today, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is all praise for the Congress President.

Reason: a new report by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, which Sonia heads, has ranked Gujarat No 1 in the economic freedom index. The RGF report, released on May 21, describes Gujarat as a safe, peaceful state for business owing to low levels of economic offences and corruption, also praises the state’s decision-making. It puts Gujarat ahead of Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand in speedy police investigation.

‘‘I thank Soniaji and Rajiv Gandhi Foundation for bringing out the truth by releasing this report. Let no one have any wrong ideas about Gujarat any more. This is the proof,’’ said Modi in Mumbai where he attended the Western Zone Coordination Committee meeting. At other places, too, he has been waving what he calls the report from ‘‘Soniaben.’’

In Indore, he thanked her again: ‘‘Soniaji and her Foundation deserve praise for presenting such a fair and unbiased report. I am grateful.’’ For the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies in New Delhi, the study was an exercise to find out which states were how conducive for business. ‘‘You read the entire report and you will know. It is purely academic,’’ said Bibek Debroy. Other experts at the institute said a favourable business environment didn’t mean it was a certificate for Modi.

Coming from the RGF, the report has taken Gujarat Congress leaders by surprise. State PCC president B K Gadhvi said: ‘‘We didn’t expect a report from the Foundation praising the state. Modi is praising Sonia, we have no objection to that. But praising the business environment in the state does not mean Modi has got a clean chit.’’

Arjun Modhvadia, leader of opposition in the Gujarat Assembly, said BJP’s Pramod Mahajan and Sunder Singh Bhandari had also made some comments about Modi and Gujarat recently. ‘‘Why doesn’t Modi thank them? He is twisting a simple economic freedom index report and quoting it out of context,’’ said Modhvadia.

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