With only three days left before Madhya Pradesh goes to polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress traded barbs over several issues with both parties fielding star campaigners across the state. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi targeted Congress for “abusing” his nonagenarian mother, Rahul Gandhi castigated the PM for speaking with hatred about him and his family.
Addressing a rally in Chhattarpur, PM Modi alleged that the “arrogant” Congress was “abusing” his nonagenarian mother as it was bereft of issues and “lacked strength” to take him on after suffering “defeat” at his hands over the last 18 years. He also hit back at the Congress in response to Raj Babbar’s comments comparing the falling value of rupee to the prime minister’s mother’s age.
“The people in the Congress, you do not have the strength to fight Modi. In the last 17-18 years, I have challenged you at every instance and defeated you. And you are dragging my mother into politics? Does this behove the Congress and its leaders?” Modi asked. “When you do not have issues, when there is a bankruptcy of issues and arrogance is sky-high, only then one dares to abuse someone else’s mother,” he said.
Congress leader Raj Babbar had kicked up a row with his comments on falling value of rupee at a rally in Indore on Thursday. “(Before becoming the PM) Modi used to say that compared to the (US) dollar, the value of the rupee has fallen to a level where it is almost the same as the age of the then Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh),” Babbar had said.
“Mr Prime Minister, at that time, you had not taken his (Singh’s) name out of respect. Although our tradition does not allow this, we wish to say that now the value of the rupee has fallen to the age of your respected mother,” he said.
The prime minister, in his address at the rally, also attacked UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, saying his government is “not remote-controlled by a madam sitting inside her home” but had 125 crore countrymen as its “high command”. He alleged the “coffers of banks” were emptied out for the rich during the “madam’s government”. The Prime Minister also targeted the Congress over the controversial purchase of Bofors guns in 1980s and 90s and the Bhopal gas tragedy (1984).
The ruling BJP is seeking a fourth straight term in the state under Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Alleging that the Congress indulged in politics of divisiveness, PM Modi said, “Because of its caste-based and discriminatory politics, the people voted the party out of power in Madhya Pradesh”. The PM said MP has taken a “big leap” under the BJP since 2013, and appealed to the people to “not make the mistake of voting for those who had ruled for 55 years”.
“Fourteen schemes were pending in Madhya Pradesh for years which we identified in 2014 and completed 10 of these schemes to increase irrigation facility.” He also raised the issue of developing tourism in the Bundelkhand region, which he said has immense potential as it has world famous Khajuraho temple and Panna National Park.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, addressed the people at a rally in Sagar and trained his guns on the PM for “betraying” the people and not fulfilled his promises of providing two crore jobs every year and “depositing” Rs 15 lakh in their bank accounts.
“Modiji has betrayed the people on the issue of providing jobs to two crore people every year and depositing Rs 15 lakh cash into their accounts by bringing (back) black money stashed abroad,” Gandhi said.
In his address at Damoh, the Congress chief further accused the prime minister of spewing “hatred” and “lies” and said that the fear of losing the 2019 general elections was the reason behind Modi’s “hatred” against the Congress. He said the latter lacks decency in speech and uses “wrong words” while talking about the Gandhi family
“When you hear Modi’s speech, he uses wrong words and speaks with hatred… and also speaks lies. The faith reposed by the people and youths in them has broken. Now, when Modi comes, people say he will speak lies,” Gandhi said.
“He (Modi) speaks with hatred about me and my family, but Shivraj uses decent language. Modi doesn’t know how to speak decently, but Rahul Gandhi will always maintain decency while speaking,” he said.
He also reminded the people of the Vyapam scam unearthed in 2013 and said the youth in Madhya Pradesh were deprived of jobs as they did not have money to pay people involved in the scam. He alleged that people from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Chouhan’s family were among those involved in the scam.
Launching further attacks on the prime minister, at a rally in Tikamgarh, Gandhi said the slogans of the Modi government had changed after four years in power. “Four years go, when Modi used to ask people ‘achche din’, (good days), they used to reply “aayenge” (will come). Now when we ask the people “chowkidar” (watchman), they reply ‘chor hai’ (is a thief),” he said.
Accusing Modi of favouring the businessmen, Gandhi said, “Modi said he would become the ‘chowkidar’ (of people) but he did not tell the people whose ‘chowkidar’ he would be? He became the chowkidar of Anil Ambani, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya.”
The Congress chief also accused the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh of corruption in implementing the Bundelkhand package of Rs 7,266 crore, which was approved by the Center on November 19, 2009 for implementation of drought mitigation strategies in Bundelkhand region which falls in Madhya Pradesh as well as Uttar Pradesh.
He also brought up the contentious issue of the purchase of Rafale fighter jets and reiterated his allegations of corruption involved in signing the deal, which the Centre has continually refuted.