Rajasthan assembly elections 2018: Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi face off on patriotism
Rajasthan assembly elections 2018: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi question each other’s nationalism during rallies in Rajasthan.Updated: Dec 04, 2018 23:23 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi attacked each other over patriotism on the penultimate day of campaigning on Tuesday for the December 7 Rajasthan elections.
Gandhi said Modi speaks about nationalism and opens his speeches with Bharat Mata ki Jai [hail Mother India] but alleged the prime minister works for top industrialists. “In every speech of Modi, he says Bharat Mata Ki Jai. What is Bharat Mata? It is our entire country… it is the farmer… it is the sentiments… crores of the youth of the country… women… labourers… and it is we all…,’’ Gandhi said at a rally in Alwar on Tuesday.
He questioned how Modi could forget the farmers if he talks about Bharat Mata. “….you waived Rs 3.5 lakh crore of 15 people, but not a single penny of Alwar farmers. Are not they [the farmers] Bharat Mata… does not their blood and sweat make Bharat Mata, should not they be having space in the country after so much sacrifice?” he asked, reiterating his criticism of the Modi government’s alleged neglect of the farmers.
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Modi hit back hours later at a rally in Sikar. He said the Congress’ “namdar [dynast] has issued a “fatwa [edict]” that Modi should not start his speeches with ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. “Today, in the presence of lakhs of people, I have torn the fatwa to shreds and said Bharat Mata ki Jai,” he said, urging the crowd to chant the slogan with him 10 times. “Who are you to snatch the slogan from India’s sons?”
Modi asked whether the fear of defeat had driven Gandhi to “insult” Bharat Mata. “For us Bharat Mata is everything… as a leader of a responsible political party, opposing Bharat Mata does not befit you [Gandhi]. Your words are a black spot on the Congress’s 125-year-old history.”
Modi and Gandhi had earlier got into a war of words over the Congress chief’s comment on Saturday that the prime minister did not understand the essence of Hinduism.
Modi responded on Monday, saying his knowledge of the religion was not an election issue. “A namdar [Gandhi] appeared to be claiming to know all about Hinduism when even saints do not make such an argument because of the vast knowledge and heritage associated with Hinduism. Only the namdar can claim that but not a small kamdar [worker] like me,” Modi said.
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In his Tuesday election speech, Gandhi focused his attack on the BJP over farm distress and allegations of corruption in the Rafale aircraft deal. “Modi-ji, the people of Congress are not afraid of you and will not step back even an inch. The loan of farmers has to be waived.”
He reiterated the Congress’ promise of waiving all farm loans within 10 days of coming to power in three states including Rajasthan. He accused Modi of working for industrialists like Anil Ambani. “He should start his speech by saying Jai Anil Ambani, Mehul Choksi, Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi.”
Later in the day in Jaipur, Modi said the people had seen the Congress’s true face and rejected its culture of “lies, dynastic politics, nepotism, casteism and communalism”. “…the people would not accept the Congress’s lies, its dynastic politics, casteism, communalism, and nepotism… the youth want development, so do not let the Congress set foot here [Rajasthan],” he said.
He spoke about “Vikas ki Ganga [Ganga of development]’’ and named its five tributaries: education for girls and boys, jobs for the youth, irrigation for the farmers, medicines for the elderly and public hearings.
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First Published: Dec 04, 2018 23:23 IST