I turn abuse into ornaments: Narendra Modi

The Prime Minister says he is proud to be a ‘chowkidar’.

Updated - March 21, 2019 12:46 pm IST

Published - March 20, 2019 10:12 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday turned the opposition’s slogan “Chowkidar Hi Chor Hai” (the Guard is the thief) into a campaign opportunity by reaching out to almost 25 lakh security guards across the country via an audio bridge. Taking umbrage to what he termed as the opposition’s insult to all those who serve by protecting property or values in public life, Mr. Modi said every Indian should keep the spirit of a guard alive within him.

“If the opposition had named and abused me I would not have minded so much, but it is unfortunate that you and your work has attracted this slur,” Mr. Modi said during the audio interaction, which lasted about 23 minutes. “I have a habit and I urge you too to cultivate it, of turning abuses thrown at you into an ornament and go forward (Gaali ko gehna banakar aagey badhein),” he said.

Mr. Modi responded to the opposition’s “ChowkidarHiChorHai” slogan with a hashtag on Twitter “#MainBhiChowkidar” that was promptly adopted by Union ministers, BJP leaders and workers, who added the prefix “Chowkidar” to their Twitter handles. The audio interaction with guards was the next step in the campaign, which the BJP hopes would be as successful as the “Chai pe Charcha” outreach of 2014.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi had first used the “Chowkidar Chor Hai” slogan to attack Mr. Modi, who has often projected himself as the country’s ‘chowkidar’, over alleged corruption in the Rafale deal.

Asserting that he was proud to be called a “chowkidar”, Mr. Modi said he would continue to work for the country. “We have to work, and work hard, and I believe that all those who do something for the country, to safeguard other people’s dreams are all chowkidars.”

He added that due to the opposition’s attack, the word chowkidar had become synonymous with “nationalism and honesty”.

“It is also not the first time that I have been insulted like this,” Mr. Modi said. “It is in the nature of naamdaars (elites) to spread hatred against kaamdaars (those who achieve through hard work). Intolerance is so ingrained in them that it will not go away very soon. If a kaamdaar becomes even PM these people will insult him/her like this. I believe that no one is big by name, but by his work. That’s why I say to all chowkidars and countrymen that we have to go far and make our children doctors, engineers even Prime Minister, but also keep alive the spirit of a chowkidar. Every Indian must keep the spirit of chowkidar alive within him,” he added.

Mr. Modi also attacked the opposition over its reaction to the Balakot airstrke.

“All Indians should be proud of our forces who undertook this glorious operation,” he said. “Our armed forces gave a crushing blow to Pakistan on its chest, but look at the situation, the hurt was inflicted in Pakistan, but the shrill cries of pain are being raised here,” he asserted.

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