Sangli/Solapur: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday hailed the Narendra Modi government's "great job" of "integrating" India by scrapping Article 370 and asked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar to clarify whether they were for or against it.
Addressing poll rallies in Maharashtra's Sangli and Solapur districts to campaign for the BJP, Shah accused the Congress and NCP of opposing the move for their politics of vote bank and appeasement. The BJP president lauded Prime Minister Modi for strengthening India's image across the world.
Shah claimed the Congress and NCP have already conceded defeat ahead of the October 21 Maharashtra polls and urged people to re-elect the BJP-Shiv Sena and allies with a two-third majority, or 222 out of the total 288 seats, in the state.
Shah also asked Pawar to come clear on what the Congress-NCP governments did for the people of Maharashtra. "After becoming prime minister again, Modiji brought a historic proposal in Parliament...he did a great job of abrogating Article 370 and 35A from Kashmir...Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's dream of an integrated India stands fulfilled today," Shah told a gathering in Sangli's Jat area.
He said the Congress and NCP, however, opposed Modi and the proposal. "I want to ask Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and NCP chief Sharadraoji Pawar, Sharadraoji should tell the people of Maharashtra whether you are in favour of scrapping Article 370 or not?" Shah asked.
"I want to ask why did you oppose the proposal when the entire country wanted Kashmir to be an integral part of India. Because you wanted to play politics of vote bank, of appeasement," he charged.
Shah said Gandhi and the Congress had claimed that "river of blood" was flowing in Kashmir. Dismissing the same, the BJP chief said Kashmir is peaceful and "not a single bullet" was required to be fired.
"These people ran a false campaign in the country and across the world following the scrapping of Article 370, saying it will lead to problems. Modiji went to the UN, the entire world is standing with him on the issue, while Pakistan stands isolated in the world," he added.
Shah also sought to underscore a difference between Congress and BJP over the issue of national security, saying his party gives priority to the nation's interest.
To drive home his point, Shah said late BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the first to congratulate former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi after erstwhile Pakistan was divided into two parts (leading to creation of Bangladesh) following the India-Pakistan war in 1971.
"We were in opposition, but for us nation's interest was before the party's interest. But you are opposing the scrapping Article 370, surgical strike and Air Force's strike in Balakot," Shah alleged.
The Indian security forces carried out surgical and air strikes in Pakistan after terror attacks in Uri and Pulwama. Under Modi's watch, the national security has strengthened, Shah said, adding that "the entire world has realised that if one Indian jawan is martyred, 10 enemies would be killed".
Shah also accused Rahul Gandhi of siding with the "tukde tukde gang" as he referred to the JNU sloganeering episode.
"Rahulji, if you want, you can abuse me, my party, Modiji. We will not say anything to you. But if you stand with those talking about disintegrating 'Bharat Mata', the BJP-led government will jail those who speak about disintegrating the country," he said.
Unlike the Mahmohan Singh-led UPA regime, there is a change in the way world perceives India now, Shah said, and credited Modi for bringing about the change.
Addressing another rally in Solapur's Akkalkot area, Shah accused Rahul Gandhi of speaking on the same lines as Pakistan.
"Rahul Gandhi demanded evidences of surgical strike, so did Pakistan. Rahul Gandhi and Pakistan opposed scrapping of Article 370. I fail to understand why Pakistan and Rahul Gandhi are on the same lines," he said.
He said that former prime minister Manmohan Singh made more foreign trips than Modi, but the latter made more impact.
Shah also accused the Congress and NCP of encouraging dynastic politics and claimed the Devendra Fadnavis government in the state fared better in all areas than the previous dispensations.