Weekend rallies by PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi raise election heat in Delhi | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Weekend rallies by PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi raise election heat in Delhi

ByAlok KN Mishra, , New Delhi
May 19, 2024 12:36 AM IST

Campaigning in Delhi heats up as PM Modi accuses opposition of vote bank politics, while Rahul challenges him to a debate over alleged links with businessmen.

Campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls reached a fever pitch on Saturday, with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi holding rallies in the national capital where polling is due in the sixth, and penultimate, round of voting on May 25.

PM Narendra Modi(Bloomberg)
PM Narendra Modi(Bloomberg)

While Modi, at his first rally in the city for the general elections, accused the opposition INDIA bloc of pursuing “vote bank” politics, alleging that the former Congress government in Delhi handed over 123 properties at prime locations to the Waqf Board for Muslim votes ahead of the 2014 elections, the Wayanad MP launched a direct attack on the PM over alleged “links” with a few businessmen and over the “misused” electoral bonds.

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Addressing a rally Yamuna Khadar area of Usmanpur in North East Delhi constituency where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded MP Manoj Tiwari, Modi slammed the “opportunistic” Congress-Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) alliance, saying the world is watching how one corrupt party is covering for another corrupt party. Tiwari is contesting against Congress’s Kanhaiya Kumar.

Modi also sought votes for the BJP’s East Delhi candidate Harsh Malhotra and Chandni Chowk candidate Praveen Khandelwal.

“While Delhi witnesses progress, the INDI Alliance is bent on its destruction. Their betrayal of trust and rampant corruption schemes have disillusioned millions. From false promises to embracing corruption, their hypocrisy knows no bounds. It’s time to expose their deceit and choose integrity over dishonesty,” he said.

Modi said the Congress had joined hands with those advocating for “vote jihad” for its vote bank during the 2014 elections.

“It was agreed that they would vote for the Congress, and its government in turn handed over the country’s properties to the Waqf Board. These properties were spread across prime locations where a yard of land costs many lakhs of rupees,” Modi said.

Modi asserted that if he has any heir, it is the 1.4 billion Indians whose bright future he has dedicated himself to. His every moment is for the country and his life is dedicated to realising the dreams of its citizens, the PM said.

“I have never lived for myself. I am working very hard for you and the bright future of your children. The 140 crore countrymen are my waris (heirs). I am working day and night for you, every second of my life is for the country. Your dreams are my Sankalp, and I dedicate my life to making your dreams come true. 24x7 for 2047 is the guarantee of Modi,” he said.

Though he made no direct reference, Modi’s remarks came amid repeated claims of Delhi chief minister and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal that Modi will make way for Union home minister Amit Shah after he turns 75 next year. He has chosen Shah as his successor, Kejriwal said, an assertion refuted by top BJP leaders who have said Modi will lead the party even after 2029.

Listing several signature projects, including the new Parliament building and the war memorial, Prime Minister Modi asserted that he lives and works hard for democracy. It is Modi in whose heart democracy is alive, he said, noting that his government has built a museum dedicated to all the prime ministers.

This Congress-AAP alliance seems determined to destroy Delhi, he said, adding that its leaders are responsible for fall in political standards and breaking people’s faith.

“The INDI alliance is ...responsible for breaking the trust of millions of countrymen. They are not leaving any chance to loot Delhi. They had come to eradicate corruption and they are facing jail in scams worth thousands of crores,” Modi said in a swipe at CM Kejriwal.

Kejriwal and AAP have been embroiled in a financial irregularities probe regarding the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for the past two years, with his former deputy Manish Sisodia incarcerated for the last 15 months.

The chief minister is also an accused in the case, and served 50 days behind the bars until Supreme Court granted him interim bail on May 10 on account of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls. The Enforcement Directorate on Friday filed its first charge sheet in the case and named Kejriwal and AAP as accused.

Modi further hit out at the Congress, saying that earlier the party would not tire of taking credit for exposing the AAP government’s scams but its Delhi leaders were forced by the Gandhi family to join hands with the city’s ruling party.

“The Congress has been completely exposed. Earlier Congress leaders used to claim credit for exposing the liquor scam. But on the directions of the “shahi parivar”, they embraced the corrupt. The local leaders of Congress are helpless. The world is watching how a corrupt is covering the other corrupt,” Modi in his 35-minute address.

The Congress and the AAP, both key constituents of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), are contesting the seven seats in Delhi in alliance.

Under a seat-sharing arrangement, the Congress has fielded candidates from three of the seven Lok Sabha seats — North East Delhi, North West Delhi and Chandni Chowk — while AAP is contesting the remaining four — New Delhi, East Delhi, West Delhi and South Delhi.

Keeping up his attack on the opposition alliance for its alleged pro-Muslim politics, Modi said that the opportunist opposition alliance can incite violence for its appeasement politics.

He also blamed the opposition for the 2020 Delhi riots following the enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

“This opportunistic alliance can also cause violence in Delhi for appeasement. When CAA was introduced, they held Delhi captive for months. First they blocked the roads and then triggered riots. But today the entire country is watching and their lies have been exposed,” said Modi.

The opposition alliance supports reservation on religious ground, restoration of Article 370 and abolition of India’s nuclear bombs, he claimed.

At his rally in Ashok Vihar for the Congress’s Chandni Chowk candidate Jai Prakash Agarwal, Rahul Gandhi said he was ready for a face-to-face debate with the PM, but Modi would never agree for one as he cannot answer questions about his “links” with businessmen and how he “misused” electoral bonds.

Gandhi urged the workers of his party and those of the AAP to work together and ensure victory for their alliance on all seven Lok Sabha seats in the national capital.

“It’s interesting that I’ll vote for AAP and Arvind Kejriwal will vote for Congress in these elections,” he said.

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Gandhi said the first aim of everyone should be to save the Constitution from those “hell-bent on destroying it”.

Attacking the Prime Minister, the Congress leader said, “PM Modi is giving non-stop interviews to his favourite journalists but he will not have a debate with me because he knows he cannot answer my questions.”

“PM Modi talks about the Congress getting tempo-loads of money from Adani-Ambani, but he doesn’t dare to get it probed,” he said.

“I’m ready to debate with PM Modi whenever and wherever he wants, but I’m sure he won’t come. The first question I would ask PM Modi is what is his relationship with Adani, next I want to ask him about electoral bonds,” the former Congress chief said.

Gandhi said the debate would end after these two questions only, but he also wants to ask the Prime Minister why did he ask the public to bang plates and flash mobile phones when people were suffering from the Covid pandemic.

On leaders from his party switching over to the BJP, Gandhi said, “We don’t want ‘darpok’ (coward) leaders, we want ‘Babbar Sher’. We don’t want those who cower fearing CBI-ED action.”

Talking about Congress and INDIA bloc plans if they are able to form government, Gandhi said, “We will throw the Agniveer scheme in the dustbin, simplify GST and help small businessmen rather than big industrialists.” He alleged that Prime Minister Modi has done nothing for small businessmen, but gave 16 lakh crore to industrialists like Adani and Ambani.

“I urge Congress workers to vote for Congress candidates on three seats of Delhi and for AAP candidates on four seats. Similarly, I urge AAP workers to vote for their party leaders in four seats and for Congress candidates in three constituencies,” he said.

On April 28, Arvinder Singh Lovely resigned from the post of Delhi Congress chief, citing differences over the party’s alliance with the AAP. Days later, Lovely and four other Congress leaders joined the BJP.

Earlier addressing the rally, Kanhaiya Kumar said that the candidates were not scared of the small time goons of BJP.

“The Prime Minister lives here in New Delhi, but it took him 10 years to go to the other side of Yamuna (Jamna-paar). Now that we have got him jamna paar, we will bring him to the very end to the banks of the river,” said Kumar.

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