Lok Sabha elections 2019: Country needs chowkidars not kings, says PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday the country needed more chowkidars and not “raja aur maharaja”, hitting out at the Opposition in his address during a ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ campaign event that was beamed to about 500 centres from the Capital’s Talkatora Stadium.
Addressing the centres through video-conferencing, the Prime Minister said he took the decision to go ahead with the air strike in Pakistan’s Balakot as he thought that “the game” should be played from where terrorism is being controlled.
Modi addressed the election campaign event as part of his ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ campaign, which is apparently a response to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s anti-corruption campaign targeting the PM by using the slogan “chowkidar chor hai”.
Speaking to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers, farmers, traders and watchmen, the PM said he has tried to deliver on the promise of punishing those accused of corruption, but he needed more time to bring them to justice.
“I have brought them to the gates of prison… now I need to focus on being sterner in dealing with those who loot the country,” he said.
The PM, who is seeking a re-election on the basis of his government’s delivery of social schemes and “corruption-free governance”, said that while he made efforts to fulfil the needs of people in the past five years, his priority in the future will be to meet their aspirations.
“I have tried to fulfil my responsibility as a chowkidar [watchman] 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,” he said.
Outlining the agenda for the next five years, Modi said that by 2022, every Indian will have a proper house and the country will become a $5 trillion economy.
Referring to the ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ (I too am a watchman) campaign, Modi said being a watchman was not just about donning a uniform but it was about the “spirit and a sentiment” of the task.
Senior leaders of the BJP — including the Prime Minister, members of his Cabinet, and party chief Amit Shah — have added the prefix “chowkidar” to their Twitter identities as part of the campaign.
At the venue from where the PM was addressing the 500 centres, the gathering included first-time voters, farmers, professionals, social workers and BJP supporters.
In response to a question on how he arrived at the decision for the Indian Air Force’s strike in Pakistan’s Balakot, the PM said that a majority government is a big strength for the country. “Today world over, India is being heard… that is because of a majority government. When world leaders hug me, they don’t see Modi, they see 125 core people represented through a majority government and then they talk as equals,” he said.
He also said India needs to move ahead and not keep engaging with Pakistan.
“Pakistan thought Modi will be busy in elections, he will not retaliate. For me, my country is the priority, not elections,” he said. “Pakistan will die its own death, we will march forward,” Modi added.
While the Opposition parties have accused the PM of politicising the air strike that was carried out after a suicide bombing killed 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Pulwama, Modi said he did not take credit for the action against terrorist groups operating from Pakistan. “I have faith in the armed forces; I gave them a freehand, because I believe in their discipline and know they will never do anything that will make the country look bad.”
In response to some parties seeking proof of the damage done by the strike on a terror camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which has claimed responsibility for Pulwama attack, Modi said it was unfortunate that those who were happy to “abuse Modi were helping Pakistan with their statements”.
Attacking the Opposition parties that are banding together to challenge the BJP in the general elections, 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.”
Attacking the Congress and its leaders, he said: “Check people’s track record, don’t believe them. The nation’s first PM wanted to remove poverty. His daughter continued it, both poverty and the promises. Poverty increases as do the promises. Her son also promised. Then his widow ran the country by remote control and promised the same thing. And now the Shehzada is here. If four generations are saying it, should we believe them?” he said.
Responding to Modi’s allegations, Congress spokesperson Pranav Jha said: “A man who himself has been behaving like a king and dictator is speaking his typical double tongue. However, for however much he pretends and acts, his game is now over. He is desperate because every Indian has seen through his game of ‘chowkidari ke naam par janta se gaddari’.”