Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday responded to a barrage of criticism over the Adani issue and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification, suggesting that some individuals had “handed out a contract to tarnish his image” and were determined to “dig his grave”.
“There are some people in our country who are determined to do this and saying this publicly since 2014. They have declared their resolve to tarnish the image of Modi. For this, these people have given supari [contract] to different people. Some people inside the country support them, but some are working from outside the country as well,” he said in Bhopal after flagging off the new Bhopal-Delhi Vande Bharat Express at the Rani Kamalapati station.
While the PM did not name anyone, it is understood that his words were aimed at Opposition parties that have continuously accused him of protecting businessman Gautam Adani over the past few months. The Opposition has also targeted the government over the recent disqualification of Mr. Gandhi as an MP following his conviction by a Surat court in a defamation case and over alleged misuse of Central agencies.
In his speech, Mr. Modi asserted that while “such people are somehow trying to tarnish his image”, every Indian, including the deprived sections, had become his “security shield”.
“In the year 2014, they took a pledge to tarnish the image of Modi. Now they have resolved to dig the grave of Modi,” he added.
Meanwhile, flagging off Vande Bharat, the first such train for MP and the eleventh in the country, Mr. Modi said new arrangements and traditions were being put in place in modern India. He also criticised previous governments saying that those who were busy with tushtikaran (appeasement) could not focus on santushtikaran (satisfying people’s needs).
Launching an attack on the Congress, he said the party believed that “one family was the first family of the country”. He stated since the launch of the train was scheduled on April 1, many in the Congress thought “Modi would make everyone April Fool”, but the train had actually started chugging on the same date.
Earlier, Mr. Modi expressed condolences for the people who lost their lives in the Indore stepwell mishap on Thursday.
Sangeeta Sharma, vice-president of M.P. Congress Media Department, was reportedly detained by the police in Bhopal on Saturday and the party alleged that the detention was linked to Mr. Modi’s visit.
Former Chief Minister and State Congress president Kamal Nath condemned the incident and said on Twitter that the manner in which Ms. Sharma was detained without any reason being given and “made to sit at police station” was completely unconstitutional. He demanded that she be released immediately.
After being let off, Ms. Sharma said she was kept at a police station for seven hours without any reason being given.