Solapur: Seeking to turn the tables on the Congress, which has accused him of corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the nation wanted to know the connection between Congress leaders and “Michel mama". The reference was to Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal.

Modi also said that Michel was allegedly lobbying for fighter planes of some other company when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power, according to citing media reports.

The PM was addressing a huge public rally in Maharashtra’s Solapur, where he also dedicated a number of development projects to the nation.

“One of the middlemen who was being hunted for the helicopter deal scam has been recently been brought to the country. Media reports say he has revealed that he was not only involved in the helicopter deal, but was also playing the role of a middleman in the fighter plane deal. Media reports say this Michel mama was lobbying for fighter planes of some other company during the previous government’s rule. The question that Congress leaders, who are creating noise, now must answer is what connection they have with this Michel mama. Do they not have to answer this?" Modi asked the crowds in his usual interactive style.

The Prime Minister said investigating agencies are hunting for answers that the nation deserved to know. Claiming middlemen and commission agents have ganged up against him after he started a cleanliness mission “right from Delhi to agriculture produce markets" across the country, he assured the people that he could neither be “purchased or intimidated" by them.

“I would also like to tell these people who are creating noise now that they are in for a big disappointment. This chowkidar does not sleep on duty and he has the guts to overcome darkness because he has the blessings of the people of this country," Modi said.

This was Modi’s third visit to Solapur, a prominent city in Maharashtra with a large presence of the Lingayat community. Starting his speech in Marathi, Modi ended it in Kannada, paying his tributes to the Lingayat deity of Siddharameshwar. Modi inaugurated some of the projects he had laid the foundation for during his previous visits and reminded the massive gathering that his was a government that believed in completing the schemes it started. In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won the Solapur Lok Sabha seat, defeating Congress stalwart and former Maharashtra chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

The BJP scored a major moral victory with veteran labour leader of the un-organized sector and former Communist Party of India (Marxist) legislator from Solapur Narsayya Aadam sharing the stage with Modi, and lavishing praise on the Prime Minister and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for starting work on the construction of 30,000 houses for the poor in Solapur, a scheme, he said, the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government had stalled for years.

Modi said the “historic" decision to provide 10% quota to the poor in general category represented BJP’s vision of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas" and social justice. He said the BJP had delivered a powerful blow to those who spread lies that the Modi government would reduce the quantum of reservations already given to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, to accommodate others.

“We have ended this vote bank politics by creating an additional category in itself," Modi said. Hailing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, the PM said Indians who were scattered across countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, and chanted “Bharat Mata Ki Jai" and “Vande Mataram" were now being allowed to return to their motherland. He assured the people and the youth in north eastern states that their rights and opportunities will not be compromised with.

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