Indian opposition politician Narendra Modi, who leads opinion polls ahead of next month’s general election, faces pressure from a small anti-graft party attacking his economic model on his home turf, the thriving state of Gujarat.
The pro-business leader has presided over rapid economic growth during more than 12 years as the chief minister of the coastal state, and slashed red tape to attract companies such as Ford, Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors.
Now, Modi promises to replicate his state’s development model nationwide if he becomes prime minister.
But Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, on Friday said small businessesin the state were being shuttered, public schools and health services were in poor shape and claims of regular supplies of electricity were not true.
“What is your development model?” Kejriwal asked as he tore into the heart of Modi’s campaign, saying that 400,000 of the state’s farmers who had applied for electricity connections years ago had yet to receive them.
“If you haven’t even given a connection, how will you give them electricity?”
India’s western state of Gujarat has been hailed for rapid measures to develop infrastructure and provide stable power supply, but critics often say it lags behind other states in social development.
“What we’ve seen in the last two days is quite shocking,” Kejriwal told reporters at a meeting on the edge of the state’s commercial capital of Ahmedabad.
Kejriwal, who was denied an audience with Modi, questioned the Gujarat chief minister’s claims on farm growth, job creation and clean governance, and suggested he was too close to big business.
He was on a tour to study conditions in Gujarat, as part of his party’s first national campaign since bursting onto the political scene with a stunning victory in Delhi’s local election in December.