The Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, on Monday targeted Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the Italian marines’ case and wanted the party to clarify who allowed the two accused, facing trial for killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast, “safe passage” from India last year.
Referring to Ms. Gandhi’s election speech in Assam on Sunday, in which she said “some people were beating the drums of patriotism,” Mr. Modi said at an election rally in Itanagar: “Those who have questioned our patriotism, I want to question them, where were they when two fishermen were shot dead by Italian marines in Kerala? Who was in power then? At whose behest were the marines allowed to leave the country?”
He said the marines would not have returned to India had the Supreme Court not taken a strong stand.
On February 22, 2013, the Supreme Court permitted Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone to visit their country to vote in elections. But, on March 11, Italy refused to send them back. The Supreme Court took a serious view of Italy’s breach of undertaking and restrained Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving India without its permission. Following this, on March 21, the Italian government sent the marines back to India.
Speaking at another rally in Sivasagar in Assam, Mr. Modi alleged that for the past 10 years, the Congress had not been interested in bringing back black money stashed away in foreign banks as it belonged to the party.
Mr. Modi addressed two more rallies in the State — at Biswanath Chariali in the Tezpur constituency and at Gogamukh in Lakhimpur.