Home / Lok Sabha Elections / Lok Sabha Elections 2019 /  Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi spar over issues centred on religion

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday sparred over issues centred on religion. While Modi blamed the Congress for coining the term “Hindu terror", Gandhi accused him of seeking to divide society along religious lines.

“When you heard the word Hindu terror, did it not hurt you? There is a deliberate attempt to malign the culture and heritage of the country. The recent decision of the court brought out the conspiracy on the part of Congress to hurt the sentiments of people. Congress understands that people are going to punish them, that is why its leaders are running away," Modi told a public meeting at Wardha in Maharashtra.

“Even British historians have never written that Hindus can be involved in violence. We have a history of thousands of years, is there any incident of terrorism by Hindus? Congress has tried to defame Hindus," Modi said.

Modi’s move to raise the pitch on the issue of Hindu terror comes ahead of the general elections that are set to kick off on 11 April.

Modi said the Congress knew that voters had decided to punish it in the general elections.

Hinting at Gandhi’s step to contest from a second seat, he said senior leaders of the Congress were changing their constituencies.

United Democratic Front (UDF) workers in Wayanad on Monday,
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United Democratic Front (UDF) workers in Wayanad on Monday, (PTI)

Gandhi has decided to contest from the Wayanad parliamentary seat in Kerala in addition to his family bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh—the first time he has chosen to stand from a second Lok Sabha constituency in a general election.

Earlier in the day, the ruling National Democratic Alliance announced Thushar Vellappally as its candidate against Gandhi. Vellappally is a member of the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The decision of the Congress to field Gandhi from Wayanad, along with Amethi, is interesting because the Kerala district in which the constituency lies has a 49% Hindu majority, with 28% Muslims and 21% Christians. The constituency is considered “safe" for the Congress.

Besides Wardha, Modi visited Hyderabad. On Monday, Gandhi addressed public rallies in Telangana, among the states that figure in the first phase of polling.

Continuing his “Chowkidar hi chor hai (the watchman himself is a thief)" campaign against Modi, Gandhi accused the prime minister of “spreading hatred everywhere he goes" and of seeking to divide the country.

“Modi has been working to divide society by pitting one religion against another and to spread hatred, while the Congress has been fighting to eliminate hatred to unite the country," the Congress president said while addressing a public meeting at Zaheerabad in Telangana.

Hitting out at BJP, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters on Monday: “As far as Congress is concerned, the Congress always believes that terrorism does not have any religion or caste and it needs to be fought."

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