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Some people have resolved to dig my grave, but every Indian is my safety armour: PM Modi

At Vande Bharat flag-off in Bhopal, Modi says some people are out to malign his image

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the flagging off ceremony of Vande Bharat Express in Bhopal | PTI Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the flagging off ceremony of Vande Bharat Express in Bhopal | PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday hit out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and the opposition, though without naming them, saying that some people in the country have resolved to malign his image and even to dig his grave. Modi, however, said each Indian—poor, tribal, dalit and backward—was his safety armour.

Modi’s statement came after he flagged off the maiden Vande Bharat Express of poll-bound Madhya Pradesh from Rani Kamlapati station in Bhopal. The new train will run between this station and Nizamuddin in New Delhi.

The PM’s statement on “maligning of image” comes close on the heels of Union minister Smriti Irani referring to Rahul Gandhi’s 2019 magazine interview where Gandhi reportedly said that Modi’s image was his strength and this image would be ripped apart.

The prime minister, while listing out his government’s development initiatives, said after 2014 some people in the country had resolved to malign his image and that they had even publicly said it.

“For this purpose, they have given supari (contracts) to different kinds of people and are holding the fort personally, too. Some of those supporting them are inside the country, while some are undertaking the task sitting outside the country. These people make constant efforts to malign the image of Modi. But every poor, tribal, dalit and backward person has become safety armour for Modi and this has freaked them out. So they are trying out new strategies. In 2014, they had resolved to malign Modi’s image and now they have resolved that 'Modi teri kabra khudegi' (Modi your grave will be dug),” the PM said.

“However, amidst these controversies, you and all people of the country should keep focus on the development of the country and on nation building. We have to increase the participation of Madhya Pradesh in the journey of the country’s development and the Vande Bharat train is a part of this process,” Modi said.

Earlier, in what appeared to be a poll campaign speech, Modi also said the previous governments remained busy with appeasement and were not concerned about the satisfaction of the people of the country. “They were engaged in tushtikaran (appeasement) of one vote bank and we are committed to the santushtikaran (satisfaction) of the country's people,” Modi said.

Modi's 21-minute speech was almost entirely focused on attacking the Gandhi family, the Congress party and the past governments, though he never mentioned any names. Modi said that when the flag-off programme was fixed for April 1, he asked why such a date was chosen as the Congress people will give statements that Modi will make ‘April fool of people’. “But see, our train has started running today,” he said.

He also said that the earlier governments considered only one family as the first family of the country and left the poor and the middle class people in the lurch. No one was concerned about their hopes and aspirations, he added.

“After independence, India got a huge ready-made railway network and if the earlier governments wanted, they could have modernized it speedily. But development of railways was sacrificed due to political interests. North-eastern states were not connected to the railway network even decades after independence. But when you gave me an opportunity to serve you in 2014, I decided to completely overhaul the railways. In the past nine years, it has been our constant effort to make Indian railways, the best railway network in the world,” Modi said.

He said that earlier people found spending time on railway stations a punishment, but now railways in India has become synonymous to facilities. Modi mentioned that networks of Wi-Fi and CCTVs have been laid at railway stations and Vande Bharat trains are super-hit among people, especially youth.

Madhya Pradesh, once known as a Bimaru state, has left behind the old times and made rapid progress in all fields including agriculture and industries, creating huge opportunities for youth, Modi said, adding that the state has become a top performer in providing housing and drinking water facilities to the poor and producing record crops including wheat.

At the outset, Modi expressed grief over the Indore tragedy; he paid homage to those killed and expressed condolences to families. He also wished for quick recovery of the injured who are under treatment in various hospitals.

The PM arrived in Bhopal on Saturday morning and spent over four hours at the Combined Commanders’ Conference (CCC) along with Union minister Rajnath Singh. Navy chief R. Hari Kumar had to leave the conference on Friday evening after testing positive for Covid-19. In the tests conducted before the arrival of the PM, 22 other persons involved with the conference were also found positive and taken off from the venue.

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