Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday once again played the “son of the soil” card in his home state of Gujarat and appealed to the electorate to give all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state to the kitty of the BJP.
Addressing a public gathering in Junagadh, Saurashtra region, to kick off the election campaign in Gujarat, Modi criticised the opposition Congress for allegedly sidelining Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and targeting former prime minister Morarji Desai and now targeting him.
Delivering the speech in a mix of Gujarati and Hindi, Modi said the “hatred” of Nehru-Gandhi family towards Gujarat is known. “First, they targeted Patel, then Desai and, now, they are targeting me. They (the Congress) cannot digest the fact that a 'chaiwala' served a full term,” he said. Modi asked the electorate to give all the 26 seats to the BJP. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP had won all the 26 Lok Sabha seats from Gujarat.
Firing a salvo against the Congress, Modi said while he talks about doing away with terrorism, the Congress talks about removing him. Invoking local sentiments, Modi said the people of Junagadh cannot forget the contribution of Patel. “Had it not been for Patel, where would Junagadh have been?” he asked the gathering. He also asked them as to what condition the Somnath Temple would have been in without the efforts of Patel.
Modi went a step ahead and said that whatever portion of Jammu and Kashmir was with India today is because of the efforts of Patel.
Modi asked the crowd whether they felt proud about the way he had run the government and the manner in which there was no blot of corruption on it. The crowd responded with a loud “yes”.
Modi said that he had come to give an account of what he did in the last five years. Making a mention that this “chowkidar” was alert, Modi mentioned how Congress leaders were allegedly usurping the money meant for pregnant women.
The Congress, he alleged, had made Karnataka its “ATM” and now it has made Madhya Pradesh its ATM. “The condition of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh would also be the same,” Modi said. “What is happening in MP is just a trailer and this would happen at the Central level also if the Congress comes to power,” Modi warned.
Despite a clear “no” from the Election Commission, Modi once again referred to the armed forces in his speech.
He asked the masses whether they had faith in the sons of the soil or the Congress. “The air strike (in Balakot) was done in Pakistan, then why is the Congress uncomfortable?” he asked. “Should we not know this type of Congress and its double standards,” he said.
Modi recalled how there used to be bomb blasts in Gujarat and how the Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar was attacked. Pointing towards the UPA rule, Modi said that for 10 years it was a “remote-controlled” government and if it did not have the courage to act against those indulging in terror activities, then “at least let someone (referring to himself) do the work he is doing”.
“I just have to tell the armed forces that they are free to take action,” Modi said, adding that the type of ammunition used by the military in such operations and talks of what make the weaponry was is immaterial.
Modi claimed that he would bring back every single penny of the money that has been looted from India.
Modi preferred to begin the BJP campaign from Junagadh as the party had performed badly in the region in the 2017 assembly elections. Moreover, all the assembly seats falling under Junagadh Lok Sabha seat are held by the Congress.
BJP candidates from Porbandar, Amreli, Rajkot and Junagadh were present on the dais with Modi and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.