In Gujarat election rallies, PM Modi uses surgical strike, Hafiz Saeed to attack Congress
Launching his campaign for the Gujarat elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tore into the Congress on Monday, setting the stage for a high-voltage war of words.
Launching a scathing attack on the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked its vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday why his party applauded the release of a terrorist in Pakistan and why he hugged the Chinese ambassador during the Doklam standoff.
Modi, who started his campaign for the Gujarat elections with a rally in Kutch district’s Bhuj town, also referred to his humble beginnings as a tea seller and attacked the opposition party over a series of scams that were reported when the previous UPA government was in power at the Centre.
“You are happy to hug Chinese ambassador, you are clapping on the release of Hafiz Saeed, you cannot respect Indian Army’s surgical strike. But why did you speak up about it? You could have just remained silent,” PM Modi said.
After the release of LeT founder and Mumbai terror attack mastermind Saeed by a Pakistan court, Gandhi had tweeted: “Narendrabhai, baat nahi bani. Terror mastermind is free. President Trump just delinked Pak military funding from LeT. Hugplomacy fail. More hugs urgently needed.”
Gandhi’s tweet was targeted at the bonhomie between Modi and Trump, whose hugs at public events have come to define a new warmth between the two leaders.
‘Didn’t sell the nation’
Later in the day, Modi said in Rajkot: “The Congress dislikes me because of my poor origin. Can a party stoop so low? Yes, a person belonging to a poor family has become the prime minister. They do not fail to hide their contempt for this fact. Yes, I sold tea but I did not sell the nation.”
The PM also said the Congress, which is making all out efforts to dislodge the long-ruling BJP in Gujarat, never accepted any Gujarati leader and had defamed the state.
“It was with the support of the Jan Sangh that a person from the Patel community, Babubhai Patel, became the chief minister. The Congress did not like this and ensured that Babubhai Jashbhai’s government did not last. When Keshubhai Patel, a son of Saurashtra, became the chief minister, the Congress tried everything to dislodge him. They repeated the same disruptive tactic with Anandiben Patel, a daughter of the Patel community. The Congress has defamed Gujarat always,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
‘Development vs dynasty’
Addressing the Bhuj rally, PM Modi also said the election in his home state was a contest between trust on development and dynastic politics.
“Recently Pakistani court released a terrorist, I cannot understand why these Congress people are clapping here,” Modi said in the speech delivered in Gujarati.
“This Gujarat son has no stains in his public life. You come to the state and level baseless allegations on the son of the soil... the people of the state will not forgive you,” he said, alluding to allegations by Congress leaders, including Gandhi.
During his campaign in the state in the last few days, Gandhi had trained his guns at the Modi-led government over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal.
Turing the tables, Modi asked, “When our soldiers... were standing eye-to-eye against the Chinese soldiers for over 70 days, at that time you were hugging the Chinese ambassador here...
“For whose benefit did you do this? I am asking you,” Modi said, without taking any name.
He referred to the Mumbai 26/11 terror strike and the attack in Uri, and asked what was the difference between one government and another, one leader and other.
The meaning of living and dying for the country can be known by the response, Modi said.
“They killed our soldiers in Uri, our soldiers went inside their territory, conducted a surgical strike and came back. The next day a newspaper said they (in Pakistan) carried bodies in trucks,” he said.
Modi alleged that the Congress raised questions on the surgical strike in September 2016.
“They could not respect Indian Army, they asked questions like none of our soldiers was injured? None of them died? Have you any photo or video evidence? Had they gone to shoot a movie in Pakistan?” he said.
“When you go to the house of the poor and eat rotis, you ensure that you are filmed, but does that mean that a surgical strike should be filmed?” the prime minister asked.
Modi will address a series of campaign meetings on Monday and on Wednesday in Saurashtra and South Gujarat, which go to polls on December 9. The second phase of the elections will be held on December 14.
The results for the 182-seat assembly will be announced on December 18.