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Lok Sabha elections 2019: PM Narenda Modi, Rahul Gandhi in fresh war of words before Phase 2

Modi also stepped up attack on Gandhi, saying it was the mindset of the “sultanate” of the “naamdar (dynast)” to abuse the deprived and treat them as slaves.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 17, 2019 00:43 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Raipur/Thiruvananthapuram
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a road show in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.(ANI Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday launched a fresh attack on Congress president Rahul Gandhi for linking his surname to people facing charges of fraud and misconduct, while also mentioning that people’s vote made the surgical and the air strikes targeting terror camps across the Line of Control possible.

In Chhattisgarh’s Bhatapara, Modi said the Opposition was crossing the limits. “According to them, anyone whose name is Modi is a thief. What kind of politics is this? They have labelled a whole community as thieves only to get some applause, just to insult your chowkidar (watchman),” Modi said without naming Gandhi.

His remarks came a day after Gandhi’s remarks at a rally in Maharashtra, where the opposition leader criticised the Prime Minister.

“I have a question. Why all thieves have Modi in their names — be it [fugitive businessman] Nirav Modi, [former cricket administrator] Lalit Modi and Narendra Modi? We don’t know how many more such Modis will come out,” news agency PTI quoted Gandhi as saying.

In his retort, the Prime Minister said, “The Sahu community in Chhattisgarh and the Rathores in Rajasthan are also Modis, and naamdar [a reference to Gandhi] has insulted them. I am stunned by the language they are using. Are all Modis thieves?”

Modi also stepped up attack on Gandhi, saying it was the mindset of the “sultanate” of the “naamdar (dynast)” to abuse the deprived and treat them as slaves.

Sahus constitute about 16% of the state’s total population of 23.5 million and had been the BJP’s traditional supporters for long. But in the 2018 assembly elections, some of them drifted towards the Congress, which won the poll and formed a government in the state.

“Criticising Modi does not mean the criticism of the Sahu Samaj. The BJP is trying to woo them...The criticism of one man cannot be counted as criticism of whole community,” said Tamradhwaj Sahu, a senior leader and a minister in the Chhattisgarh government.

At a rally in Chhattisgarh’s Korba, Modi said the Congress used to refer to the Maoists as “revolutionaries”, and said the re-emergence of Maoists was because the Congress was boosting their confidence. His remarks came against the backdrop of a Maoists attack that killed a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)?legislator and three others on April 9.

In Bhatapara, he said: “The Congress and its mahamilavati (adulterated) friends have lost their sleep after seeing a wave in favour of the BJP in the entire country and in frustration they are hurling abuses at me. People of the country are seeing this.”

“As soon as they (the Congress and opposition parties) will come to know the strength of crowd in my rally today, they will start abusing more,” he said even as he accused the Congress of doing a “PhD in betraying the people”.

Modi stressed that surgical and air strikes against Pakistan, and demonstration of India’s anti-satellite missile capability were all possible only because of the strength of people’s vote.

Campaigning in Kerala,Congress chief Gandhi hit out at Modi over what he said was an attempt at “exploiting” the valour of the jawans and their sacrifices for political gains.

Criss-crossing through four districts of Kollam, Pathnamthitta, the ground zero of Sabarimala protests, Alappuzha and Thiruvananthapuram, Gandhi targeted Modi on a host of issues and hit out at the Sangh Parivar but refrained from attacking the CPI(M)-led government.

“If the Army and Air force carries out an action, the credit is fully theirs,” Gandhi said, addressing a gathering of party workers in Thiruvanathapuram. “It is shameful that PM does not give them credit.”

Because they are the people who gave their blood.It is their families who suffer and they deserve the credit,” Gandhi said.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Apr 17, 2019 00:43 IST