New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday lauded Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar while addressing a rally in Maharashtra’s Akola. His comment came a day after the BJP in its Maharashtra election manifesto called for awarding India’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna to Savarkar.
"It is due to Savarkar's “sanskar” (values) that we put nationalism as the basis for nation-building,” said Modi. "The people who are angry at our nullifying article 370, they are the same people who used to abuse and denigrate Veer Savarkar and who denied him a Bharat Ratna till today."
Modi called the opposition parties "shameless" as he attacked them for objecting to BJP leaders bringing up the issue of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir during campaigning for the Maharashtra Assembly polls. He claimed that when young leaders in the Congress say the government's decision of abrogating Article 370 is in the country's interest, they are sidelined in the party.
"Look, you are so happy with the nullification of article 370, with Kashmir's full integration into India under the constitution written by Baba Ambedkar,” he said. “Haven't the sons of this soil laid down their lives to ensure that the valley remains peaceful. I'm proud of Mahrashtra's son who made supreme sacrifice for their motherland."
Hitting out at the opposition parties over objection to abrogation of constitutional provisions that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Modi said, "I want to tell the Congress and NCP leaders, they can place a 'chadar' (cloth sheet) at the place where Article 370 has been buried."
"For political gains, some are openly saying that Article 370 has nothing to do with Maharashtra polls, that Jammu and Kashmir has nothing to do with Maharashtra. I want to tell such people that J&K and its people are also sons of Maa Bharti. They have fought cross-border terrorism and embraced death," he said.
"How dare they question (abrogation of) Article 370 and ask how is it connected to Maharashtra polls?" Modi said, adding he was amazed that such politically selfish comments were being made in the land of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
"It is due to Savarkar's sanskar (values) that we put nationalism as the basis for nation-building," Modi said.
Addressing rallies in Akola and Jalna districts for the next week's Maharashtra polls, Modi said the Congress now is not the same party that fought for Independence.
"The (Congress) party is taking its last breath. It sees 'rashtra bhakti' (nationalism) in 'parivar bhakti' (devotion to a family)," he said without taking any names.
Modi said he read that the Congress will take a class for the party workers on nationalism. "I don't know whether to laugh or cry. This proves that today's Congress is not the one, which fought for freedom," he said.
Maharashtra was the land of the brave and had leaders who gave direction to the country, he noted, dubbing the Congress-NCP alliance as a "bhrashtwadi yuti" (corrupt coalition), which took Maharashtra backwards by a decade. The "vote bank politics" adversely affected the state. There used to be bomb blasts in trains, buses, buildings frequently during the Congress-NCP rule, he said.
"At one time, there were regular incidents of terrorism and hatred in Maharashtra. The culprits got away, and settled in different countries. India wants to ask the people who were in power then, how did all of this happen? How did they escape," he said, slamming the Congress-NCP combine. "Sentiments of nationalism and patriotism are high in Maharashtra. Unfortunately, the Congress and NCP leaders have forgotten these values." he said.
Modi also said that all relations between "tainted" leaders in Maharashtra, which goes to polls on October 21, and their connections with terror networks are unfolding.
Many mass base leaders have quit the Congress and NCP because of the "arrogance" of certain leaders, and those still there, will vote for the BJP-led alliance next week, he said. While the BJP's priority is national and people's interest, the Congress and NCP's intentions and dedication are not genuine, he said.
Modi further said that Marathwada gave three chief ministers to the state, but still the region is backward in terms of development.
"Funds were used only for the (earlier) chief minister and associates and not for the region. Under the BJP rule, rural infrastructure is being strengthened," he said.
Referring to the NCP's clock symbol showing time of 10 minutes past past 10, he said the Sharad Pawar-led party and the Congress will win only 10 seats each in the state polls.
Without naming NCP leader Praful Patel, Modi said business interests of some leaders with those involved in anti-national activities are being unearthed.
"These leaders were scared, they knew trouble is brewing for them so they started maligning the investigating agencies," he added.
The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Patel on Friday in connection with its money laundering probe linked to alleged illegal assets in Mumbai of gangster Iqbal Mirchi.
On the subject of terror attacks, Modi said that after bomb blasts in the state, the terrorists behind them would flee to enemy countries. "Now relationships between some of the leaders [who allowed the terrorists to run away] and the terrorists is unravelling.”
“Those who did business with the people that painted Maharashtra in its own blood, we are finding out about them,” he added.
The Prime Minister claimed that chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had worked towards combating the drought-like conditions in the state.
Akola is considered to have a strong influence of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi's founder and grandson of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar, Prakash Ambedkar. His VBA which was fighting recent Parliamentary polls in Maharashtra in alliance with AIMIM, ended up bagging an impressive 14% of the total votes polled in the state.
(With inputs from PTI)