Solapur, Maharashtra: Seeking to turn the tables on the Congress party regarding the Rafael controversy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the nation wanted to know the connection between Congress leaders and “Michel mama", who he said was named in the media as lobbying for fighter planes of some other company when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power.

Modi was addressing a huge public rally in Maharshtra’s Solapur where he also dedicated a number of development schemes to the nation. The Prime Minister was referring to AgustaWestland chopper deal middleman Christian Michel, currently being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

“One of the middlemen who was being hunted for the helicopter deal scam was recently brought into the country. According to media reports, he had revealed that he was not only involved in the helicopter deal, but was also playing the role of the middleman in the fighter plane deal. Michel mama was lobbying for fighter planes of some other company during the previous government’s rule, the reports added. The question that Congress leaders creating noise now must answer was what connection they had with this Michel mama," Modi said.

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

“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 people of the country."

This was Modi’s third visit to Solapur, a prominent Maharashtra city significant for its large presence of the Lingayat community. Beginning his speech in Marathi, Modi ended it in Kannada by paying his tributes to the Lingayat deity of Siddharameshwar. Modi inaugurated some of the schemes he had laid the ground-breaking stone for during his previous visits and reminded the crowd that his was a government that believed in completing the schemes it started. In 2014, the 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 in the form of veteran unorganised sector labour leader and former Communist Party of India (Marxist) legislator from Solapur Narsayya Aadam, who not only shared the stage with Modi but lavished praises on the Prime Minister and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for starting work on building 30,000 houses for the poor in Solapur.

Modi said the “historic" decision to provide 10% quota to the poor in the 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 scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes (OBCs) to accommodate others.

“We ended this vote-bank politics by creating an additional category in itself," said Modi.

Hailing the Citizenship Amendment Bill, Modi said Indians who were scattered in countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, and who chanted “Bharat mata ki jay and Vande Mataram" were now being allowed to return to their motherland. He assured people and youth of North Eastern states that their rights and opportunities would not be compromised with.

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