Jalandhar, February 14
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched the National Democratic Alliance on Monday as the only option that could help shut down mafias and resolve the state’s drug crisis.
Modi, who was addressing his first rally in Punjab this election season at Jalandhar’s PAP grounds, spoke fondly of his long association with Captain Amarinder Singh.
This is the first time in 25 years that Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party will contest the election without their old ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal. This is also the first time in 24 years that Captain Amarinder Singh will fight an election without his former party, the Congress.
On Monday, Modi’s particularly acerbic swipes were reserved for rival Congress, in particular, for the Gandhi family. He accused the Congress of kicking out Captain Amarinder Singh because he “upheld federalism” and claimed the Gandhis ran the state government through remote control and “as long as the family was in control, the party won’t work for the state’s betterment”.
“Why did they remove Capt Sahib? They’ve themselves said at that time they didn’t run the Punjab government—the central government was running it,” he said.
“That means all Congress governments are run by remote control. A family from Delhi runs them. The state governments don’t work as per the constitution. If Capt Sahib worked on the principle of federalism with the state government and if the central government worked with the state government, wasn’t it according to the constitution?”
“Congress leaders say Capt Sahib didn’t listen to us. He put obstructions. And in the end, it rose so much that they ousted him. If a family runs the government by remote control and doesn’t bother about the constitution then it will cause tensions in the country. That’s what this family is doing.”
The Congress, he said, was carrying out an old vendetta against Punjab, Modi said invoking the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.
“The family controls Punjab and has old enmities with the state. It’s settling an old score.”
The NDA, he said, was the correct choice.
“The BJP won’t allow the control of mafia on trade and business. Under the BJP government traders and residents will operate without any fear,” he said.
He also took a jibe at rivals AAP, although he did it without directly mentioning them, in addition to the Congress.
“Those without work talk about rooting out Punjab’s drug problem. These people are experts at opening up alcohol shops on the streets and Mohallas. Punjab should be wary of such people. They want to hand over the state to drug mafias,” he said. “These are the same people who demanded proof that our military had conducted surgical strikes. And singing dancing to Pakistan’s tunes.”
His appeal then went to women: “Of what use is your gaadi and bungalow if your sons fall prey to the scourge of drugs?”
His next jibe was for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, whom he referred to as “yuvraaj” (crowned prince). He accused Gandhi of “misusing the state machinery” in 2014 while he was still a Member of Parliament.
“During the 2014 elections, I had to come to Pathankot and had to go to Himachal Pradesh via helicopter. You will be surprised, ‘Congress ke namdaar, unke yuvraaj vo simply ek party ke MP the. (Congress’s ‘Prince’ was simply a party MP then),” he said.
“He also had an event near Amritsar. My helicopter wasn’t allowed to fly. I reached Pathankot late. My helicopter wasn’t allowed to fly. Why? Because their yuvraaj was supposed to come to another part of the state. I was stopped. That’s how they misused power. I had to cancel two Himachal programmes.”
The Congress, he said, was a party riven with infighting.
“Today Congress’ own party is splitting. Congress leaders are opening up secrets of the party. I ask you, can those fighting amongst themselves can they give a stable government? Can they develop Punjab?”
'Denied temple visit'
He accused the local administration of not clearing his visit to the Shakti Peeth of Devi Talab on Monday.
He said: “I wanted to visit the Shakti Peeth of Devi Talab after this event but the police and administration said they were helpless. They asked to stick to a helicopter visit. This is the state of the government,” he said. “But I will return to 'Maa'. I will bow my head to her.”
Punjab will vote for the 117-member assembly on February 20. Votes will be counted on March 10.
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