New Delhi, Jan 19: Launching one of the most scathing attacks, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Sunday said the Congress didn’t name Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial nominee because it was set for a rout in the Lok Sabha election.

In an over hour-long speech at the Ramlila Maidan packed with cheering party delegates and with the entire leadership on the stage, Modi outlined his vision of a new India if the BJP gets to rule the country. Amid the euphoria, patriarch L.K. Advani sounded a note of caution, warning the BJP not to be overconfident because a similar mindset led to a shock defeat in the 2004 Lok Sabha battle.

While Modi made no reference to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), others, including party president Rajnath Singh, referred to it in their speeches, saying the Arvind Kejriwal outfit was only a Congress front. Interestingly, no other party except the Congress and the AAP figured in the speeches of the top leaders on the final day of a three-day leadership meet — the last before the Lok Sabha polls due in April-May.

Modi also made no mention of Gujarat in his speech, which was lustily cheered by the thousands of delegates.

In a bitter attack on the Nehru-Gandhi family, Modi questioned the Congress’ democratic credentials after it said it didn’t name Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate because it is the MPs who pick someone for the top post after elections. If this was the case, he asked why the Congress did not pick Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as prime minister in 1947, how Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in within hours of Indira Gandhi’s killing, and how Congress president Sonia Gandhi unilaterally chose Manmohan Singh for the top post in 2004.

He quickly added that there was “a human angle” too to keep Rahul Gandhi away.

“When defeat is certain, which mother would send her son to the battlefield only to be slain?” he asked, triggering laughter and clapping. “Which mother would sacrifice her son in politics?

“So a mother’s heart decided that she must save her son,” he said, but without taking the name of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.  Modi also made it a point to repeatedly make reference to his “tea vendor” past. This time, he also underlined that he was from “a backward caste” whose mother once washed utensils in others’ homes.

In contrast, he accused the Nehru-Gandhi family of a feudal mindset and said they probably saw themselves as “high caste”, not wanting to take on a humble former tea vendor. Outlining his idea for tomorrow, Modi said he wanted an India where “truth alone triumphed, non-violence is the prime ‘dharma’, all spiritual paths are treated equally and women are respected”.

In remarks clearly aimed at regional parties, he said that if the BJP took power, the country’s federal structure would be cemented and regional aspirations would be addressed.

“The Congress got 60 years to rule India, give us 60 months.”

Rajnath Singh earlier cautioned: “The Congress will never want the BJP to get a clear majority. So they will use their deceitful ways. Any vote for a non-NDA (National Democratic Alliance) party will at the end go to the Congress kitty.”

On Saturday, he had said the BJP wanted to win over 272 seats in the Lok Sabha but that the Congress was making attempts to thwart its goal.

A political resolution passed at the meeting came down sharply on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“Manmohan Singh has not left any noticeable footprint to enable history to give him any place of significance,” said the resolution adopted by the BJP national council. Manmohan Singh had this month warned that Modi as prime minister would be a disaster for India. IANS