Kolhapur: Further sharpening the BJP's narrative for Maharashtra assembly polls on nationalism, BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday praised the "man with 56-inch chest" in Prime Minister Narendra Modi for nullifying Article 370 and integrating Jammu and Kashmir with the mainstream.
Addressing an election rally in Maharashtra's Kolhapur district, he said the previous governments never had the courage shown by Modi.
He appealed to people to ask Congress and NCP leaders, when they come to seek votes, whether they support the NDA government's decision to abrogate the provisions that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
He targeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar for questioning the government's move to abrogate Article 370.
"After people of the country and Maharashtra voted him for the second term, Modiji did something for which the entire country was waiting for 70 years...he abrogated Article 370 on August 5 and joined Jammu and Kashmir with the country's mainstream," Shah said.
Shah said since the days of Jan Sangh, they have been hearing that there cannot be two prime ministers, there cannot be two symbols and two constitutions, but "it was the Congress which, by imposing Article 370, stopped the process of integrating Jammu and Kashmir with India for several years".
"As a result, thousands of our people lost their lives due to terrorism, but still there was no intention of any party to remove Article 370," he said.
"Several governments came and went, several prime ministers came and went, no one had the courage to abrogate Article 370. But, the man with the 56-inch chest scrapped it in one go," Shah said.
He said during the UPA rule, terrorists from Pakistan used to infiltrate and kill Indian soldiers.
"They used to decapitate our soldiers, but the then prime minister 'Mouni baba' Manmohan Singh never used to utter a single word. But after the Uri and Pulwama attacks, Modiji showed the courage of killing terrorists in their den through surgical strike and air strikes," he said.
He further hit out at the opposition over the government's decision to ban the practice of triple talaq.
"When we banned triple talaq, they opposed," he said.
Speaking on the devastating floods in Kolhapur and Sangli after heavy rains in August, he assured people that the Centre and the state government will transform both the districts and make them even better and more beautiful.
He said during the previous Congress-NCP regime, ₹70,000 crore was spent on irrigation, but not a single drop of water reached any village.
"But Devendra Fadnavis, after taking charge as the chief minister (of BJP-led government), spent just ₹9,000 crore and with the help of the 'Jalyukta Shivar' (water conservation) scheme, over 11,000 villages were irrigated," he said.
Shah alleged that there was corruption during the Congress-NCP coalition government in Maharashtra.
He asked NCP chief Sharad Pawar what Maharashtra received during the previous UPA rule.
Before the Congress-NCP's rule, Maharashtra topped charts in every field, be it agriculture, mill production, industry or education, he said.
"During 15 years of the Congress-NCP regime, the state's ranking came below 15. But, during the present Fadnavis government, the state has managed to gain its ranking and in all these fields, the state is in the first five," he said.
Shah appealed to people to once again vote the Fadnavis government to power so that the state can become no. 1 in every field.
He said the government was planning to set up an IT park in Kolhapur.
"By giving ₹450 crore, the state government made Kolhapur toll free (by shutting down toll plazas and waiving off charges)," he said.
"Besides, the Kolhapur airport was reopened, sugarcane cultivators were given subsidy, railway line works were under progress and the Kolhapuri chappals got the geographical indication (GI) tag," he added.
Addressing another rally in Karad in Satara district, Shah, in an apparent dig at the Congress, said no worker in the BJP became a leader by virtue of "dynasty".
"The BJP is the party of leaders. All workers are taking the party and its nationalistic approach forward. Be it PM Modiji or any other leader, all cadres have become leaders by putting up posters on walls and giving slogans. Nobody became a leader because of any dynasty," he said.
Shah said the land of Karad belongs to the first chief minister of Maharashtra late Yashwantrao Chavan.
"I would like to tell all leaders of the Congress that you never respected your leaders. The Congress could not give due respect to late Yashwantrao Chavan," he said.
Congress veteran and former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan is in the fray once again from Karad South assembly segment.
Listing the welfare works launched by the Centre and the state governments, Shah asked the people to question Chavan about the work done by him for the region when he was the minister in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
Shah said the government was committed to extend every possible help to the flood-hit people in western Maharashtra.
He said the BJP started work to complete the Krishna Valley project which has been pending since the Congress-NCP rule.
"A total of 48000 hectares of land has come under irrigation due to various projects undertaken by the BJP government in Satara district," he added.
Shah also hit back at NCP chief Sharad Pawar who has questionned the BJP top brass for raising the issue of scrapping of Article 370 in the Maharashtra polls.
"....What is the relation between the abrogation (of Art 370) and the Maharashtra state? I would like to ask people of Karad and Satara, don't you love Kashmir, is the state is not an integral part of India. Instead of feeling ashamed, these people (Opposition) are asking what big work the government has done by its moves on Kashmir," he said.
Shah said Udayanraje Bhosale, former NCP MP from Satara and BJP candidate for the Lok Sabha bypoll, joined the saffron party on the issue of Article 370.
He reiterated that all intruders will be driven out of the country through National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise before 2024.
Shah later conducted a road show in Shirur in Pune district. PTI SPK GK NSK NSK NSK
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.