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Oppn is demoralising our forces, helping Pakistan: PM Modi

At Amethi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s constituency, he roused the crowd with nationalistic and patriotic slogans before his speech. In Patna, he accused the Congress and other opposition parties of demoralising security forces and playing right into the enemy’s hand.

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 04, 2019 07:30 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Amethi
Pm Modi,India news,BJP
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses supporters during Sankalp Rally at Gandhi Maidan in Patna on Sunday. (ANI photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech to mark the launch of the National Democratic Alliance’s campaign in Bihar, and, later in the day, his first rally in five years in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, the pocket borough of the Gandhis, left no doubt that national security would be one of his main themes over the next few months.

At Amethi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s constituency, he roused the crowd with nationalistic and patriotic slogans before his speech. In Patna, he accused the Congress and other opposition parties of demoralising security forces and playing right into the enemy’s hand.

New India would not countenance anyone questioning our security forces, Modi said in Patna, adding that “the nation has seen how the Congress handles national security”.

Also read | On Rahul Gandhi turf, PM Modi’s jibe with ‘Made-in-Amethi AK-203’ rifles

In Amethi, he accused the Congress of even lying on matters of national security and said demands of the security forces for arms and equipment were ignored.

Modi’s Amethi speech also suggested that BJP MP and textiles minister Smriti Irani could well be the person to challenge Gandhi in Amethi.

Following the February 14 suicide bombing of a CRPF convoy by a terrorist of the Pakistanbased Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) that killed 40 troopers in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir, India launched on February 26 preemptive air strikes at a Jaish camp in Pakistan to prevent more attacks.

Pakistan responded on February 27, although India said the Pakistan Air Force’s attempt to target military installations failed. India also brought down a PAF F-16, although its own MiG-21 came down on the other side of the Line of Control. Pakistan captured the pilot, but released him within three days. Meanwhile, India has managed to bring a lot of diplomatic pressure on Pakistan.

While the issue is far from over, analysts say that Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party will use it to reinforce its position on national security and terror. On Friday, in a meeting in Tamil Nadu, Modi struck a similar note.

In Patna, Modi shared the stage with Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar for the first time since 2009.

“I want to know from Congress and its allies why they are demoralising security forces by asking for proof of the air strikes against terror camps? Why are they issuing such statements that benefit our enemies?,” he said.

In Amethi, Modi announced the launch of a joint venture between India and Russia for the manufacture of AK-203 assault rifles at an ordnance factory, saying the constituency will serve as a perfect example of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s policy of “sabka saath, sabka vikas” (with everyone and for everyone’s progress).

Also read | ‘Opposition wants to get rid of me, I want to get rid of terrorism’: PM Modi at Patna rally

“It is the nature of some people to ask for votes and then forget about the people. They want to make sure the poor remain poor so that they can raise slogans of “garibi hatao” (remove poverty) generation after generation,” Modi said in an obvious dig at the Congress president whose grandmother Indira Gandhi coined the anti-poverty slogan in the 1970s.

He said the Indian Army asked the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in 2005 for necessary modern weapons. “Your local MP inaugurated this project in 2007. It was said then that the work will begin from 2010. Even three years after the inauguration, the government was not able to decide on which weapons to manufacture at the facility,” he said, criticising the previous government for failing to cater to the needs of the defence forces.

“Those who cheated Amethi also ignored the country’s defence needs,” Modi said. The AK-203 is the latest derivative of the famous AK-47 assault rifle.

“Tall promises were made. Your local MP promised that he would ensure employment to 1,500 locals in this ordnance factory but merely 200 got jobs. Imagine those who couldn’t ensure jobs to people in Amethi are now lecturing us on employment,” Modi said.

The Congress and other opposition parties have criticised the government over a controversial report that said the unemployment rate in the country has touched its highest level in 45 years.

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was also present at the Amethi event, read out a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin hailing the joint venture with India.

Modi also said that the Congress was opposing the Rafale deal for the sake of kickbacks (or commissions). “Despite clean chits, they oppose the Rafale deal due to their own vested interests. But Rafale jets will fly soon.”

The Congress president on Saturday accused PM Modi of being “solely responsible” for the delay in acquiring the Rafale jets. The NDA government’s decision to enter a government to-government deal with France to buy 36 Rafale warplanes was announced in April 2015, with the deal signed a little over a year later. This replaced the UPA regime’s decision to buy 126 Rafale aircraft, 108 of which were to be made in India by HAL using parts imported from France.

In the run-up to the 2019 elections, the Congress has repeatedly attacked the government over the issue, accusing it of awarding the deal for 36 Rafale fighters to Dassault only on the condition that it would stitch up an alliance with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group for meeting its offset obligations. The government, Anil Ambani’s company and Dassault have rubbished the allegations. The government’s audit watchdog has said the price of the basic aircraft in the new deal is marginally lower than in the old deal. The Supreme Court has also ruled that due process was followed in the deal. At the Amethi meeting, Modi virtually pitched union minister Irani as the BJP candidate from Amethi in 2019: “We lost Amethi in 2014 Lok Sabha polls but won your hearts. Smriti ji has continuously worked with you and for you.”

The Congress said the PM himself “questioned” the recent anti-terror air strike in Pakistan with his remark that the country was feeling the absence of Rafale fighter jet and that the result of the attack across the Line of Control would have been different if India had the French-built jets.

The party said it neither sought proof of such strikes earlier nor was it asking for evidence now. It also dismissed the PM’s rally in Amethi as a “flop show” and accused the BJP of misusing official machinery for political gains. “Most of the projects have merely been renamed. The BJP is desperate to take credit for initiatives taken during our tenure,” said Congress leader Chandrakant Dubey.

Also read | ‘One chowkidar has defamed all others’: Rahul Gandhi renews attack on PM Modi

First Published: Mar 04, 2019 07:30 IST

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