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Jayalalithaa’s sharpest attack against Narendra Modi so far

A day after Narendra Modi suggested that he shares a good relationship with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, she did not return the compliment. In her sharpest attack yet on the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate, the chief minister said at a rally that Mr. Modi needs to check his facts.

Referring to a rally in Chennai at which Mr. Modi had said that neither her AIADMK nor the Opposition DMK had helped Tamil Nadu, Ms Jayalalithaa said, “I would like to tell him (Modi) that the AIADMK is the only party which has done good work and constantly thinks of the people.”

Ms Jayalalithaa also said Gujarat’s development is a “myth”; Tamil Nadu’s growth has been far more impressive than that of Gujarat. Mr. Modi and the BJP say that his chief qualification for the country’s top job is the development he has brought to Gujarat during his four terms as chief minister.

In the past, Mr. Modi and Ms Jayalalithaa have been openly supportive of each other – when she was sworn in as chief minister of Tamil Nadu in 2011, he attended the ceremony. When Mr. Modi won an impressive victory in the Gujarat election in December, 2012, Jayalalithaa attended his swearing-in.

But the BJP and she did not strike a pre-election alliance, and she has said recently that she believes in the potential of a Third Front- a conglomerate of parties that are not affiliated to either the BJP or the Congress.

Ms Jayalalithaa’s attacks on Mr. Modi became more direct after his meeting with superstar Rajinikanth in Chennai on Sunday, just before the rally in which he criticized her government.

Her remarks against Mr. Modi have been attributed by analysts to the fact that the state’s two main Muslim parties are aligned with her rival, the DMK. Mr. Modi and the BJP are accused by detractors of indulging in communalism and divisive politics and critics say they don’t enjoy the confidence of Muslims.

Mr. Modi, asked about recent criticisms that Jayalalithaa and he have swapped, said, “We may have different ideologies, but at a personal level, I have excellent relations with Jayalalithaa.”

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