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Serial gaffes put Modi on back foot

Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi
Nov 11, 2013 12:42 AM IST

When Narendra Modi confused freedom fighter Shyamji Krishna Verma with Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee on Sunday, it was not the first time he tweaked the history books. Modi's mistakes give 'foes' chance to teach him history

When Gujarat chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Shyamji Krishna Verma with Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee on Sunday, it was not the first time he tweaked the history books.

With the race to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections getting more intense, Modi's fiery speeches fraught with factual errors are hogging the limelight.

Consider this: at the October 27 rally in Patna, which was held after serial blasts rocked the Bihar capital, Modi made a series of mistakes.

"When we are reminded of the Gupta Dynasty we are reminded of Chandragupta's rajneeti," he said at the rally.

Bihar chief minister and Modi's political rival, Nitish Kumar, replied, saying, "The BJP has amazing grasp of history. They should know Chandragupta was of Maurya dynasty, not of Gupta dynasty."

It did not stop here. At the same rally, Modi went on to add, "Alexander's army conquered the entire world, but was defeated by the Biharis. That's the might of this land."

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Kumar once latched on to the opportunity, saying: "Alexander's army never crossed Ganga and he wasn't defeated by the Biharis."

On the same day, Modi triggered another storm in the social media. This time, he said, "Taxlia, the learning hub of ancient times, was in Bihar."

Pat came the reply from Kumar. Taxila, which is in Pakistan, is nowhere near Bihar, he said,

A newspaper quoted Modi saying India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru did not attend the funeral of his home minister, Sardar Patel.

Later, the newspaper published a correction saying he had been misquoted. Gujarat chief minister had expressed his thanks by tweeting.

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On Sunday, Modi landed in a tight spot once again when on Saturday took a dig at the BJP for twisting history.

Addressing a gathering after the inauguration of a hospital in Gujarat's Kheda district, he said, "Syama Prasad Mookerjee was a revolutionary. He died in 1930 in London. But the Congress never bothered to bring back his ashes to the country."

The person Modi was referring to was Shyamji Krishna Verma, a freedom fighter, lawyer and a journalist.

Mookerjee was the founder of the Jan Sangh, which later became the BJP. He died in a Jammu and Kashmir prison on June 23, 1953 - 45 days after being detained for entering the state without a permit.

At a rally in Punjab in June this year, Modi had held India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru responsible for Mookerjee's death.

But on Sunday, Modi said, "Nehru should have sent an emissary to bring the ashes (of Mookerjee) back. The Congress government didn't get them back till 2003. It was me who brought the ashes to India in 2003."

Modi later apologised for the blunder. But his critics on Twitter described him as "his own party's history".

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