BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Tuesday made a passionate appeal to voters to ensure his party's victory on 300 Lok Sabha seats, but his use of Kargil hero Vikram Batra's off-quoted phrase "Ye dil maange more" sparked a controversy with Batra's parents raising objections.
Modi used the phrase more than once during his three rallies in Himachal Pradesh to stir up the sentiments of the people of the hill state, where a large chunk of population comprises serving and retired servicemen.
Batra's septuagenarian father G.L. Batra, whose wife Kamal Kant is in the fray for the first time as an Aam Aadmi Party candidate from the Hamirpur seat, took strong offence to use of "Yeh dil maange more" slogan for soliciting votes.
"The BJP is just trying to take credit in politics at this point in time by politically using the slogan of a martyr," Batra told IANS over the phone from Palampur.
Challenging Modi, he said: "If he is so indebted to the martyrs he must withdraw his party's candidate against my wife."
An emotional Kamal Kant clarified that they never approached the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for contesting the election.
"The AAP has honoured us by fielding me. We have never referred Vikram's name or slogan in the election campaign, then who is the BJP to do it? It has never thought about the martyr earlier," she added.
The mother of Kargil hero, who was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra - India's highest war-time gallantry award, has been fielded by Arvind Kejriwal's AAP against sitting MP Anurag Thakur of the BJP.
But state BJP chief Satpal Satti clarified that Modi used this slogan in the context of winning more seats to have in place a stable government in the centre.
"We have a lot of respect for the soldiers and the martyrs. Even Modiji in his speeches highlighted the plight of families of the martyrs," he added.
Modi, at his first election rally in Palampur town of Kangra district, the hometown of Capt Batra, said: "When we take the name of Maj. Somnath Sharma (the first recipient of the Param Vir Chakra, awarded posthumously for his bravery in the November 1947 Kashmir operations) and Vikram Batra, we feel proud. Our mind says: 'Yeh Dil Mange More."
In his Mandi rally, Modi said: "Today, I ask you to make the lotus win with 300 seats because 'Ye dil mange more' just like Vikram Batra, who gave his life for the country in the Kargil war, using the same line.