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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

‘There was queue for PM in 2014, it’s a bit longer now’: PM Modi jabs opposition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has countered the Congress’s campaign against him saying that chowkidar is not a system but a spirit to realise the vision of Mahatma Gandhi.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 01, 2019 07:34 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds interaction with people at ‘Main bhi Chowkidar’ program at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on Sunday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds interaction with people at ‘Main bhi Chowkidar’ program at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on Sunday.(ANI photo)
         

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hit out at the Opposition parties, attempting to present a united front against the BJP-led ruling coalition, pointing out to prime ministerial ambition of rival leaders.

PM Modi said, “When I was made a prime ministerial candidate, there was a queue for the PM’s post in 2014. Many wanted to become prime minister. The queue has got a bit longer now in 2019.”

Modi was referring to differing voices in the Opposition camp over who could be the PM if the BJP-led ruling coalition is defeated in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in April-May.

Watch: Chowkidar is a spirit, it is a feeling: PM Narendra Modi

During campaign for the assembly election in Karnataka last year, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had said if the party secures majority in the national election, he is ready to become the prime minister. Recently, his sister and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that Rahul Gandhi could be the PM if the party emerges victorious in the parliamentary elections.

At different point of time, names of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party Mayawati have been projected by supporters as potential PM candidates. Mamata Banerjee is believed to be in the lead as a non-BJP non-Congress prime ministerial candidate.

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, in January this year, said Banerjee has all the qualities to be the PM. Banerjee, on her part, has evaded a clear answer to the question on Rahul Gandhi’s prime ministerial candidature fueling speculation about her political ambition.

This has led to BJP leaders, including party president Amit Shah, taking a swipe at Opposition unity. Shah, in his rallies, has been mocking at the Opposition saying if they win there will be a prime minister for each day of the week.

‘Chowkidar not a system but spirit’

PM Modi, in his comeback at the Congress, turned philosophical to counter “chowkidar” campaign. During his interaction with supporters of BJP’s “main bhi chowkidar” drive, he said the ruling party’s campaign is “an extension of Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of trusteeship”.

Addressing people across 500 locations, PM Modi said, “I have tried to fulfil my responsibility as a chowkidar in the last five years…People pay taxes to the government and the poor have right over this money. I had promised I would not let anyone lay their hands on it. But there are some people who have limited intellect. It is their problem that they can’t think beyond.”

“Chowkidar is not a system. Chowkidar is not limited to any frame. Chowkidar is a spirit. It is a feeling,” PM Modi told around 5,000 supporters of BJP’s “main bhi chowkidar” drive, launched to counter the Congress’s “chowkidar chor hai” campaign.

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The Congress launched its campaign to attack PM Modi alleging malfeasance in Rafale deal, a defence agreement signed between India and France.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged the PM Modi scrapped the Rafale deal being negotiated during the UPA regime to benefit businessman Anil Ambani, whose Reliance Defence is an offset partner of Dassault Aviation, the French company which has got the contract to supply 36 fighter jets to India.

‘Nation loves chowkidar, doesn’t want kings’

On Sunday, PM Modi countered the Congress’s campaign saying, “If everyone becomes chowkidar, will there be any thief to loot resources of the country? I believe that the people of the nation love chowkidar. They don’t want raja and maharaja (kings and emperors) now.”

The prime minister launched his counter campaign on March 16. A day later, PM Modi and all the ministers in his cabinet and party members changed their Twitter handle by adding prefix ‘chowkidar’ to support BJP’s poll campaign.

On March 20, PM Modi addressed over 25 lakh chowkidars from across the country. The word ‘chowkidar’ (watchman) entered political lexicon of India in 2014, when Modi as prime ministerial candidate of the BJP used this at an election rally.

In his inaugural speech ahead of “main bhi chowkidar” interaction, PM Modi explained why he used the word in his election campaign.

“I was new in 2014. I had some identity as a chief minister. My fame was mostly due to my critics. Their criticism created inquisitiveness about me. Around this time, the BJP made me its prime ministerial candidate. Against this backdrop in 2014, I had said I would be a chowkidar not the prime minister,” said PM Modi.

First Published: Mar 31, 2019 17:41 IST