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PM Modi makes ‘unyay’ pitch amid Rahul Gandhi’s graft charge

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian National Congress president Rahul Gandhi traded words around the NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) scheme, INC’s poll promise that guarantees Rs 72,000 annually to 20 per cent of India’s poorest, in their respective election rallies in the southern states on Saturday.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2019 23:05 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nyay,India news,Rahul Gandhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a Vijaya Sankalap election rally ahead of the Low Sabha Election 2019 in Bengaluru, Saturday, April 13, 2019. (PTI photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian National Congress president Rahul Gandhi traded words around the NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) scheme, INC’s poll promise that guarantees Rs 72,000 annually to 20 per cent of India’s poorest, in their respective election rallies in the southern states on Saturday.

The tagline of the Congress poll campaign is Ab Hoga Nyay, or now there will be justice.

Speaking at a rally in Theni in Tamil Nadu on Saturday, Modi said, “Even if they did not intend to, they have admitted that all they have done so far is ‘an-nyay’ [injustice]. It means they agree that they did injustice to the nation for 60 long years.”

In turn, campaigning in Karnataka, Gandhi said that the 2019 Lok Sabha election is a fight between industrialist Anil Ambani and the ordinary people and between thieves and honest people. He said that money for the NYAY scheme will come from “[PM Modi’s] friend, Anil Ambani”.

The prime minister was in Tamil Nadu to campaign for the upcoming elections on April 18, when polling for 39 Lok Sabha seats and 22 assembly seats (bypoll) is scheduled.

“Congress and dishonesty are best friends but sometimes, by mistake, they end up speaking the truth,” Modi said, who was campaigning for the AIADMK-led National Democratic Alliance in Tamil Nadu.

Gandhi, who visited the Jallianwala Bagh memorial in Amritsar on Saturday, held rallies in Karnataka later in the day.

Congress is in alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) for the upcoming polls. This is also the ruling coalition, which won the assembly elections held last May.

“This election is between Anil Ambani and the common citizens, five years of ‘Anyay’ (injustice) and NYAY, thieves and honest people and false promises and truth,” Gandhi said in Chitradurga.

Also read | ‘Demonetisation destroyed economy, NYAY will jumpstart it’, says Rahul Gandhi

“When we announced NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana), the face of the chowkidar (a reference to PM Modi) changed. It shrank. He asked where will money come from to implement NYAY. I am telling you Modiji, the money for NYAY will come from your friend Anil Ambani,” said Gandhi addressing an election rally in Kolar.

Speaking to ANI in New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala on Saturday hit back at Modi’s comments on the NYAY scheme, saying it reflected the latter’s “anti-poor mindset”.

“The Prime Minister is opposing NYAY scheme because he is anti-poor. Why the Prime Minister, who promised Rs 15 lakh and delivered none, is opposing the scheme which gives Rs 72,000 per year to the poorest families of India? This shows his anti-poor mindset,” he said.

In Kolar, Gandhi kept up his attack on the Prime Minister’s chowkidar campaign —in which the several Bharatiya Janata Party supporters are encouraged to add this prefix to their names —and said the “chowkidar [guard]” was a “100 per cent chor [thief]”.

“You stole Rs 30,000 crore and gifted to your thief friend. You 100 per cent steal money. ‘Chowkidar’ is a thief,” Gandhi said, referring to the alleged kickback in the Rafale fighter jet deal between French aviation company Dassault Aviation and the Indian government.

The Congress has alleged malfeasance in the 2016 deal in which Ambani’s firm, Reliance Defence is an offset partner of Dassault Aviation.

Continuing the play on the word Nyay, Modi said, “I want to ask the Congress party that who will do the nyay with the victims of 1984 riots? Who will do nyay with the governments of the great MGR (MG Ramachandran) ji which were dismissed by Congress just because of one family did not like those leaders? Who will do nyay with the victims of Bhopal gas tragedy, the first environmental disaster in India? That too happened under the Congress rule.”

Later in a rally in Mangaluru in Karnataka, Modi also raised the issue of India’s air strike in Balakot, Pakistan, on February 26.

“When surgical strike is carried out, they ask for proof. When India targets terrorists in their own backyard, these mahamilawati people (reference he uses to address the Congress and its allies), they raise doubts over our armed forces,” Modi said.

This comes a day after over 150 military veterans wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, expressing outrage over what they called “use” of the armed forces for “political purposes”.

Karnataka will go to poll for 28 Lok Sabha seats in the second and third phases, that is to say, on April 18 and April 23.

Also read | In Karnataka, PM Modi cites surgical strike, Sabarimala to target Congress-led Oppn

First Published: Apr 13, 2019 23:04 IST