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PM Modi Tears Into Oppn for Demanding Proof of Air Strikes, Says Move Will Demoralise Forces

Modi, while sounding the poll bugle for the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar, also paid tribute to the CRPF men killed in Pulwama and said the nation stands with its jawans.

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Updated:March 3, 2019, 9:02 PM IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched a scathing attack at the Opposition for demanding proof of the air strikes conducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Pakistan’s Balakot, saying the move was aimed at demoralising the armed forces. Modi, who was in Patna for the ‘Sankalp Rally’ and shared the dais with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after nine years, said the Opposition was giving statements that were beneficial to the enemy.

Twelve Indian Air Force Mirage-2000 jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC) early on Tuesday morning and destroyed terror camps of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot. The air strike, which has been dubbed surgical strikes 2.0, comes two weeks after a terror attack on CRPF soldiers in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir. The issue, however, turned political after several opposition leaders raised doubts on the veracity of the claims and demanded proof of the destroyed camps.

Modi, while sounding the poll bugle for the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar, also paid tribute to the CRPF men killed in Pulwama and said the nation stands with its jawans. Earlier, Kumar congratulated the Prime Minister for the Balakot strikes and praised Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistan and later set free.

The rally comes exactly a month after the Congress held the first-of-its-kind ‘Jan Akanksha’ Rally at the same venue. The public meeting holds significance because Modi and Kumar are sharing the stage for the first time after 2010.

The rally, which also had LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan in attendance, was reportedly an effort to show full faith and confidence in the Prime Minister for handling the post-Pulwama crisis, which culminated in India’s “non-military” air strikes on Pakistan’s Balakot to demolish JeM camps, state presidents of the parties had said on Friday.

In a joint press conference earlier this week, Bashishtha Narayan Singh, LJP president Pashupati Kumar Paras and Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai said a “sea of humanity” would participate in the rally, touted to be “bigger than the biggest” of all the rallies held at the historic Gandhi Maidan till now.

Singh said the NDA partners had made arrangements for the participants at 14 places in Patna, while the MLAs, MLCs and MPs of BJP, JD(U) and LJP have made their own arrangements for their people.

Explaining the purpose of the rally, Rai said, “A sea of humanity will be present at the rally to bless PM Modi for effective handling of the post-Pulwama crisis that the country faced.” It will also be an occasion to make a collective declaration to “end terrorism and work for the country’s development so that it joins the league of three biggest economies in the world under the leadership of PM Modi”, Rai said.

According to BJP and JD(U) leaders, the mammoth event will serve as a befitting reply to RJD-led opposition parties.

Political analysts are of the opinion that the success of the massive ‘Mahagathbandhan’ rally in Kolkata on January 9 and Rahul Gandhi’s Jan Akanksha Rally in Patna on February 3 has raised the political temperature in Bihar and other states. The NDA’s ‘Sankalp Rally’, they said, could be an effort to counter the expanding political base of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’.

Nitish Kumar had ended his 17-year alliance with the BJP in 2013 after Modi was declared the prime ministerial candidate ahead of the 2014 general elections. However, his party won just two seats in the 2014 polls. Of the total 40 seats in Bihar, the NDA had won 31 in 2014.

After the Lok Sabha elections, the JD(U) entered into an alliance with the RJD and Congress in Bihar during the 2015 assembly elections and Kumar returned as chief minister. However, he dumped the RJD-Congress-led grand alliance in July 2017, returned to NDA fold and formed a government in Bihar with BJP’s support.

Kumar’s return resulted in a split in the NDA as two of its constituents — Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) — joined hands with the RJD and Congress.

As per the seat-sharing formula, the JD(U) and BJP in Bihar will contest on 17 seats each and Paswan-led LJP will get the remaining six seats for the 2019 general elections.

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