Gujarat elections: Narendra Modi tears into Congress on his home turf
Ahmedabad: Kicking Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) campaign in Gujarat into high gear, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday challenged Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to explain why his party applauded the release of a terrorist in Pakistan and why he hugged the Chinese ambassador at the height of the Doklam standoff.
The stinging attack against the Congress party came at a rally in the town of Bhuj, in Kutch district.
“You are happy to hug the Chinese ambassador, you are clapping on the release of Hafiz Saeed (Lashkar-e-Toiba founder and 26/11 attacks mastermind), you cannot respect the Indian Army’s surgical strike. But why did you speak up about it? You could have just remained silent,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister reminded the audience about the surgical strike ordered by his government in September 2016 on terror camps across the Line of Control in Kashmir after an attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri, and compared the response to the one after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Gandhi had recently tweeted: “Narendrabhai, baat nahi bani. Terror mastermind is free. President Trump just delinked Pak military funding from LeT. Hugplomacy fail. More hugs urgently needed.” The tweet had come after the release of Saeed by a Pakistan court.
Modi said the election in his home state is a contest between development and dynastic politics. “Does any Congress leader talk about Kamaraj, Acharya Kripalani, (Netaji) Subhas babu, U.N. Dhebar (who belonged to Gujarat)... no, because they only talk about one family...,” he said.
Modi also hit out at Congress leaders, including the Congress vice-president, over allegations of impropriety in the Rafale fighter aircraft deal. “You come to the state and level baseless allegations against the son of the soil... the people of the state will not forgive you,” Modi said.
“Gujarat is my atma (soul), Bharat is my parmatma (God). This is my mother and I am its son. You (people) have helped me grow as its son. You have helped shape me. You gave strength and nurtured good in me,” he said.
At public meetings at Jasdan and Amreli towns in Saurashtra, Modi charged Congress governments with neglecting Gujarat over the years. He alleged that its misgovernance had adversely impacted the overall development of the state.
Blaming the Congress for the delay in bringing Narmada waters to Gujarat, he said, “What if the Narmada waters had come to Kutch 30 years earlier? It would have made such a big difference to the lives of people.”
The two-phase elections to the 182-member Gujarat assembly will be held on 9 and 14 December and the results will be declared on 18 December.
“Prime Minister Modi’s rallies are likely to have a great impact, especially in constituencies where the difference in victory margins is not huge. Modi can swing things in BJP’s favour here,” said Vidyut Joshi, an Ahmedabad-based political analyst.