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Nov 20, 2019-Wednesday



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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

Modi invokes Balakot, puts saffron allies in poll position

mumbai Updated: Oct 19, 2019 00:28 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday made a strong pitch for a second term for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in Maharashtra, which goes to polls on Monday, highlighting that the state witnessed no terrorist attacks in the past five years and accused the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government of aiding terrorists.

Addressing a joint rally of the saffron alliance, BJP-Shiv Sena, at the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), Modi was unrelenting in his attack on the Opposition combine. Modi shared the stage with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

“There was a time when Mumbai used to frequently face terror attacks. This is not the situation anymore. The reason is that these terrorist masterminds fully know that any such misadventure now will be punished firmly. Surgical strikes and Balakot are not just words, but a commitment of the BJP and its allies towards the nation’s security,” said Modi.

In the country’s financial capital, Modi assured businessmen they will get red-carpet treatment as they are job creators and that red-tapism will be a thing of past.

“We respect the role of job creators and will accord them all respect,” said Modi.

Thackeray said it was a unique election, where opponents are not seen on the field.

“We will celebrate three Diwalis,” he said, referring to Thursday’s election results and expressing hope that SC’s verdict would be in favour of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Modi said despite terrorist masterminds across the border claiming responsibility of the blasts, the Congress, then in power, did not act against them.

“The previous governments did not give justice to the families of victims who died in the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai. They did not arrest the people who killed them. It is now becoming clear why they did so. It was because they had some Mirchi trade or they were trading with Mirchi,” he said, in an apparent reference to the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) probe into a real-estate transaction between Hajra Memon, wife of Dawood Ibrahim aide Iqbal Mirchi, and a company linked to senior NCP leader Praful Patel’s family. Dawood was the mastermind behind the 1993 blasts. Patel, who was questioned by the ED on Friday, has clarified that the transaction involving the handing over of an apartment was done, because the high court had asked his family’s company to allot the same to Memon, as she was the occupant of the piece of land that was redeveloped by the company. “This is just the beginning of the cleaning. This work will be expedited in coming days,” Modi said.

Modi did not make any direct mention of the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank scam, which put thousands of depositors in a fix, but reiterated his determination to punish the offenders of corruption and economic crimes. “Those who tinkered with the banking system and economy will not be spared. One is cooling his heels at Tihar jail and another in the Mumbai jail. This is just the start. Another action will follow soon,” he added. Modi also spoke about the infrastructure projects taken up by the BJP governments in the state and at the Centre. He said the Navi Mumbai airport was mooted in 1997, but the actual work was started by the BJP government and it will be ready soon. The work on the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (sea link between Sewri and Nhava in Raigad) has already been started though it was stuck for years. “During the Congress regime, the speed of infrastructure projects was so slow that even a tortoise would be ashamed.”

Tawde on dais

State minister and senior BJP leader Vinod Tawde, who was denied a ticket by the party from Borivli constituency, was given a place on the dais . Tawde ,who has been a prominent face of the party in Mumbai and Konkan, also addressed the rally. Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Arvind Sawant, state ministers Tawde, Ashish Shelar and city BJP chief Mangal Prabhat Lodha were on the dais too.