New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched his poll campaign for the Lok Sabha elections with a blistering attack on the opposition as he kept his focus on “nationalism”, saying that Pakistan wanted him to lose the polls.
Modi kicked off his campaign from Meerut in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh and followed it with back-to-back rallies in Rudrapur in Uttarakhand and Akhnoor in Jammu and Kashmir.
Slamming the opposition parties for seeking proof for the 2016 surgical strikes and the recent air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot, the Prime Minister claimed that some of them have become heroes in Pakistan while the country needed a Hindustani hero.
Addressing the first rally in Meerut, Modi attacked the opposition for questioning India’s capabilities in space and dubbed the opposition’s alliance as “mahamilawat” (adulterated) and the alliance of the Samajwadi Party (SP), Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as “saraab”.
“The country has seen many governments in the past which believed in sloganeering. But for the first time, it has seen a decisive government which knows how to fulfil its commitments. Be it on land or sky or space, the government of your ‘chowkidar’ has shown courage to conduct surgical strikes,” he said.
Modi was referring to the air strikes conducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Jaish-e-Mohammed training camps in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26, and the successful testing of an anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile on Wednesday.
He also called the SP-RLD-BSP alliance ‘saraab’ and said that it was harmful for one’s health and the state. “Sapa (SP) ka ‘sa’, RLD ka ‘raa’ aur Baspa (BSP) ka ‘ba’, matlab ‘saraab’,” he said.
The Congress and the Samajwadi Party promptly slammed the Prime Minister for likening the opposition parties with liquor. ‘Saraab’ in Urdu means mirage or illusion while a similar sounding ‘sharaab’ in Hindi stands for alcohol.
In Rudrapur too, Modi raked up the Balakot air strikes and asked the crowd whether he should have remained quite after the Pulwama attack which killed 40 CRPF troopers, saying their “chowkidar” (watchman) didn’t inherit the values of cowardice.
“Should I remain quiet despite terrorist threats? Will people forgive those who give anti-national statements just to become a hero in Pakistan,” he asked.
The Prime Minister also asked the Congress why its “blood did not boil” when the country was under siege during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Warning the enemies of India that he will not be scared, Modi said: “The message is loud and clear. We will not be scared, but will stand firm.”
Addressing his last rally of the day in Akhnoor, Modi accused the Congress, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC) of being biased against the Jammu region.
He also claimed that Pakistan wanted him to lose the Lok Sabha elections.
“Pakistan is praying that the ‘chowkidar’ should somehow lose the elections so that this mixture of sorts comes to power in Delhi,” he said, referring to the opposition parties which want to unseat him in the Lok Sabha elections.
“Those who devise policies and strategies for the Congress come on national media and social media to give clean chit to Pakistan and the terrorists,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister then played the Kashmir versus Jammu card by saying the Congress, the PDP and the NC always discriminated against the interests of the people of Jammu.
Launching a scathing attack on the Congress and its leadership, Modi said: “I am surprised at what has happened to the Congress. It is difficult to believe that it is the same Congress that had Sardar Patel and Subhas Chandra Bose in its ranks. My soul says this is not that Congress.
“In order to fight Modi, the Congress leaders are unable defend the national interests. After Balakot, the Congress leaders are speaking in a language that is against the national interests… Their statements are being cheered in Pakistan.”
“It is because of the PDP, the Congress and the NC that Kashmiri Pandits had to undergo such sufferings,” Modi said, referring to the mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in the early 1990s.
“It is these three parties which are interested in dynastic rule. The country’s defence and security are not priorities for them,” he said.
“It is for the first time that those running terror factories across the border are shaking in fear. The militants now think twice before crossing into our side of the border.
“Whether the terrorists are in India or outside, they must realise that any step against India will cost them dearly. Terror funding and its links are being challenged. Groups supporting terrorism are being banned. So the Congress, PDP and NC are abusing the ‘chowkidar’,” the Prime Minister said.