Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday took a swipe at Congress after some netas of the opposition party made controversial remarks, calling him a ‘chai-walla’. The opposition party had drawn severe flak from BJP for a cartoon in Youth Congress’s mouthpiece which showed UK Prime Minister Theresa May advising Modi to “sell tea” during a conversation between them and US president Donald Trump.
In the course of four meetings in different parts, Modi touched upon all the issues which form the saffron quiver. He sought to tap into the feeling of Gujarati subnationalism by accusing Congress of denying the state its due.
Speaking in Gujarati, the Prime Minister recalled the prevalence of communal riots in the period before BJP took office to burnish BJP’s “peace and stability” plank, while exolling the party’s “tough-onnational security” credentials by referring to the surgical strikes on terror targets across the border as well as how his government stood its ground during the Doklam face-off with China.
He rebutted the criticism of demonetisation by Congress by saying that the high denomination currency notes were scrapped to punish the corrupt. The opponent came under fire also for allegedly engaging in casteist politics.
In Bhuj, Modi said, “This Gujarat’s son has no stains in his public life. You come to the state and level baseless allegations on the son of the soil… the people of the state will not forgive you.” Modi said Congress has always harboured a strong dislike for Gujarat and the December assembly elections would be contest between Vikas (development), Vishwas (trust) and vanshwad (dynasty).
He claimed that the Congress had celebrated the release of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and raised doubts over Army’s surgical strike after the Uri terror attack. In Jasdan, Modi raked up the pre-BJP era communal tensions saying that only BJP can provide security to the common man. “Remember Gujarat that was before 2002. There were frequent riots. Before coming to Ahmedabad, people had to call up and confirm if the situation was peaceful.
They were unsure if going back at night was safe,” Modi said in Jasdan. He recalled how rioting used to erupt over petty things like kite flying, a small accident or even children playing with tops. “There was just insecurity everywhere,” he said, adding that it was only after BJP came to power that riotings and stabbings stopped.
Congress scion Rahul Gandhi, who has campaigned frenetically in the state, came under fire. “They asked for photographs and videos showing evidence of the surgical strike. Did my Army go there to shoot a film the way you videograph yourself having food at a poor’s house?” Modi said. He also raked up Gandhi’s meeting with Chinese envoy during the Doklam stand-off saying that he was hugging the ambassador when the Indian Army held its positions in the cold without blinking.
“You cherished meeting Chinese ambassador and clapped at the release of a terrorist like Hafiz Saeed,” he said without naming Rahul. The PM said that Congress had not only meted out severe ill-treatment to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, whose pain is well documented in his daughter Maniben’s book, but also conspired to unceremoniously oust stalwart like Morarji Desai.
“Morarjibhai had himself said how he was thrown out like brinjals and potatoes,” he said. Modi staunchly defended the demonetisation decision saying the way Congress was raising a hue and cry, it looked like they had lost a young earning member of the family.
In Dhari, Modi compared the party’s condition post-demonetisation with a family whose young earning member has died. “Even after one year, they (Congress) are crying over note ban. It seems like their earning member had died and they are still in a state of mourning. It is as if their entire world has collapsed,” he said.