Who was the Bharatiya Janata Party politician who posed this rhetorical question? “I want to ask the Congress and the Prime Minister, would he like to face (a Special Investigation Team) now on the Coalgate scandal?”

It’s what you might expect from a national leader of the BJP, challenging the Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a countrywide controversy as a verbal volley before the parliament polls scheduled for 2014. But it was just Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi stirring the pot for this December’s assembly elections.

That is unusual for a state election campaign, which normally focuses on state problems. Though Modi did tie all this in to Gujarat with allegations of unfairness toward his state, you could be forgiven for thinking that he was waging a national campaign to be prime minister.

Many people think so too, though Modi, who has won attention in the international media for his pro-business, pro-development stance for Gujarat since becoming chief minister in 2002, has denied it.

Instead of responding to criticism – namely the 2002 communal riots that killed over a thousand people as per government records – Modi has spoken out on topics ranging from illegal immigration from Bangladesh to policy paralysis in the Manmohan Singh government.