In his first campaign rally in Maharashtra for the 2019 general election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday criticised the Congress for coining the term ‘Hindu terror’. He added that the community would teach the Congress a fitting lesson for the slur.
“The Congress and the NCP can stoop to the lowest level for the sake of vote-bank politics. The Congress attempted to defame the crores of Indians by using the term ‘Hindu terror’,” he said at a rally in Wardha in the Vidarbha region.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Ramdas Tadas is seeking re-election from the Wardha constituency, taking on Charulata Tokas of the Congress.
Alluding to the Samjhauta Express blast case verdict, which acquitted Swami Aseemanand, without however specifically referring to the case, Mr. Modi said it had exposed the conspiracy hatched by the Congress.
“How can the Congress be forgiven for insulting the Hindus in front of the world? Weren’t you hurt when you heard the word ‘Hindu terror’? How can a community known for peace, brotherhood and harmony be linked with terrorism? In the thousand years of history, not a single incident shows an act of Hindu terrorism. Even the British historians could never find it,” the Prime Minister said.
Claiming that it was Sushil Kumar Shinde, who as Union Home Minister used the term, Mr. Modi said the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra had given a free hand to the crowd in Azad Maidan, which went on the rampage destroying the memorial of martyrs.
Issuing a stern warning to the Congress, Mr. Modi said the Hindu community was aware now. Using innuendo, Mr. Modi said, “It is evident from the fact that one has to contest a seat where the minority is majority,” alluding to the decision of Congress president Rahul Gandhi — without naming him — to contest Kerala’s Wayanad, in addition to Amethi.
Repeating his tirade against the Congress for seeking evidence of the IAF’s strikes in Balakot, Pakistan, Mr. Modi urged the crowd, “Do you want heroes of Hindustan or of Pakistan? You want saboot [evidence] or sapoot [great son]? Teach those who ask for evidence a lesson.”
Turning his guns on the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Mr Modi said party chief Sharad Pawar had foreseen his defeat and decided not to contest the Lok Sabha election. “The NCP is facing a family feud. The party is slipping out of Pawar’s hand and his nephew is taking over. Pawar was hit-wicket at the hands of his nephew,” he said.
The Prime Minister blamed the drought in Vidarbha on the 70-year rule of the Congress and its corruption. “Pawar despite being a farmer himself, forgot about the plight of farmers, the suicides committed. He never cared,” said Mr. Modi.
Stating that comments labelling him as the ‘chowkidar of toilets’ were in fact compliments, Mr. Modi said, “that means I am the chowkidar of the pride of women who never had access to a toilet and had to go for open defecation,” he said.
He added that ridiculing him as ‘chowkidar of toilets’ revealed the casteist mentality of Congress leaders and disrespect towards people who have spent their entire life cleaning toilets.
The Congress party on Monday said the Election Commission should act against Mr. Modi for violating the provisions of the Representation of the People’s Act, following the Prime Minister’s remarks that Congress leaders were now looking for seats where Hindus are in a minority.
Cong. counters attack
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said if the EC did not take suo motu notice, the party would approach the poll panel.
“Prime Minister Modi has committed a corrupt practice under Section 123 sub clause 3 of the Representation of the People Act besides violating the dignity of the office that he holds and every other yardstick that is necessary in public life. He must apologise to the nation,” said the Congress leader.
(With inputs from Sandeep Phukan)