Addressing his first campaign rally in the run-up to the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly polls in Jalgaon, Modi said Jammu and Kashmir was "not just a parcel of land, but crown of India", and assured it will not take more than four months to normalise the kind of situation that prevailed there for 40 years.
Stepping up his attack on the Congress and NCP over nullification of Article 370, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dared them, “if they have guts”, to declare in their poll manifesto that they will restore the provisions giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir. He also said some Opposition leaders were speaking on the lines of a “neighbouring country” on the Article 370 issue which is “exactly opposite” the national sentiment.
Addressing his first campaign rally in the run-up to the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly polls in Jalgaon, Modi said Jammu and Kashmir was “not just a parcel of land, but crown of India”, and assured it will not take more than four months to normalise the kind of situation that prevailed there for 40 years. He accused the opposition parties of politicising the issue of Article 370 and charged them with “speaking on the same lines as that of the neighbouring country”.
Speaking at another rally at Sakoli in Bhandara district in east Maharashtra, Modi said though the world was faced with a “challenging time” India is stronger to deal with the same. He also said the rural economy was not paid attention to earlier unlike his government has done and added that Rs 25 lakh crore will be spent on the development of infrastructure in villages. Attacking the Congress and NCP, Modi said in Jalgaon that it was “unfortunate” that they were “politicising” the “unprecedented” decision of scrapping of Article 370. Their leaders thought exactly opposite of what the entire nation feels about Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
“You look at the statements made by Congress, NCP of late…They seem to be speaking on the lines of the neighbouring country,” Modi said, without naming the leaders as he apparently referred to Pakistan. Accusing Opposition leaders of shedding crocodile tears on the issue of Article 370, he said, “I challenge them, if they have guts, declare in their manifesto for state election and future polls too, that they will bring back Article 370 and 35A, which the BJP, the Modi government scrapped…that they will change the August 5 decision.”
“Stop shedding these crocodile tears,” Modi said. Wondering whether bringing back Article 370 will be acceptable to people, he said the Opposition parties will have no future if they were to do so. Hailing the move, Modi said earlier it was “unthinkable” that such a decision (of scrapping the special status) could be taken, and noted that only separatism and terrorism spread in Jammu and Kashmir over the years. The scope for development of the poor, women, Dalits and the exploited sections was slim, he pointed out. Members of the Valmiki community in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were even deprived of their human rights, he said. He also hit out at the Opposition over the issue of banning triple talaq, alleging they tried to see Muslim sisters did not get justice.
“But, I kept the promise made to Muslim mothers and sisters,” he said, and also challenged the opposition “to bring back the practice of triple talaq”. Taking a dig at the opposition, Modi, without naming any party, said the “tired allies” can extend each other support, but cannot fulfil the dreams of Maharashtra and aspirations of its youth. Notably, senior Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde recently remarked that both his party and the NCP are “tired”.
Without naming NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Modi also referred to a video clip featuring the veteran leader and alleged that he elbowed away a party worker as he was being garlanded at a poll rally in Akola. “I don’t know whether the clip is genuine or not… such a big leader whose photos appeared in newspapers all these years, who was seen on TV, but he has such a small heart that he elbowed the young man (the worker) as he tried to get inside (the garland),” Modi said. Modi said votes cast by people in the Lok Sabha elections for an “able and strong New India” will help the country attain the place it deserves in the world. “Because of this mandate, India’s voice is being heard by each of the world’s strong force…The world is seeing a reinvigorated New India. This not because of Modi, but because of your one vote. Only my 130 crore countrymen are behind it,” Modi said.
At Sakoli, the PM said in earlier days schemes were worked out on caste and community considerations. “However, for my government, only people mattered,” he said, adding that farmers, the poor and deprived sections are the focus of his schemes. “We are working new energy for creating new identity of New India. The world is faced with a challenging time now. But India is stronger now to deal with the challenge. This is because of the trust you have reposed. This trust is inspiring us to take big decisions. Such decisions people earlier were scared of taking,” Modi said.
In an apparent jibe at the Congress, which had mostly ruled Maharashtra since its formation in 1960, Modi said “divisive politics” has now become history in the state. “Earlier, attention was not paid to the rural economy like it is now…in the coming years, Rs 25 lakh crore will be spent on developing infrastructure in villages,” Modi said. He said roads are being developed in rural areas and godowns will be created to store grains of farmers. “An amount of Rs 2000 crore is already deposited in the accounts of small farmers in Maharashtra,” he added. Modi mainly restricted his speech to the welfare politics at Sakoli against the backdrop of Opposition’s charge that the BJP was raising only emotive issues.