DAYS after he and Congress president Sonia Gandhi unequivocally backed the government on the surgical strikes in PoK, Rahul Gandhi Thursday launched a fierce attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of hiding behind the blood of soldiers and doing “dalali,” (cashing in) on their sacrifice.
While several Congress leaders, both former ministers and senior and middle-rung functionaries, had been taking potshots at the government asking it to furnish evidence to clear doubts regarding the surgical strikes, Gandhi made it clear that he has no reason to disbelieve the statement made by the Army.
But at a time when both the Congress and the BJP are accusing each other of politicising the strikes, he launched a broadside against the Prime Minister.
“Jo hamare jawan hai, jinhone apna khoon diya hai Jammu Kashmir main…jinhone Hindustan ke liye surgical strike kiya hai, unke khoon ke peeche aap chupe hue ho. Unki aap dalali kar rahe ho. Yeh bilkul galat hai,” (Our soldiers who have shed their blood in Jammu and Kashmir, who have conducted the surgical strikes, you are hiding behind their blood. You are cashing in on their sacrifice, that’s wrong), he told a rally here concluding his month-long 3500-km kisan yatra in Uttar Pradesh where the Congress has been pushed to the fringes in the last three decades.
WATCH: You are doing ‘Dalali’ of their(Jawans) blood: Rahul Gandhi to PM Modi pic.twitter.com/9FyidaF6uj
— ANI (@ANI_news) October 6, 2016
Gandhi also tried to draw a distinction between the Army and the Government. He said the Army has done its duty and asked the Prime Minister to follow suit.
“Hindustan ki sena ne Hindustan ka kaam kiya hai. Aap apna kaam kijiye. Aap Hindustan ke kisaan ka madad kijiye, aap Hindustan ke sena ko Seventh Pay Commission main paisa badhake dijiye. Yeh aapka kaam hai. Yeh aapki zimmedari hai. Isko aap nibhayiye. Hindustan ne aapko iske liye elect kiya hai. Yeh sachai hai,” (The Indian Army has done its duty. Now you do your duty. Help the farmers, hike the salaries of soldiers under the seventh pay commission..that is your duty. That is your responsibility. India has elected you for that. That is the truth),” he said.
The BJP hit back. “It is most shameful. Such remarks reflect his mental bankruptcy. The army and the Prime Minister are getting praise from everywhere for the surgical strikes. Modi is being praised for his decision and he is unable to digest it. Rahul Gandhi is in frustration,” BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma told PTI.
Some senior Congress leaders were surprised by the sudden aggression and the choice of words. “His intention was to say that Army deserves the credit and kudos and you cannot ride on them..but I agree it did not come out quite that way,” a senior leader said on the condition of anonymity. He said the Congress should “brazen it out” if the BJP makes it a political issue as the message Gandhi wanted to convey is important.
Another senior leader, however, was apprehensive of the fallout. “The remarks could cost us,” he said.
Gandhi’s statement indicates a further departure from the Congress’s position on the strikes. The focus of Gandhi’s 11-minute speech was Prime Minister Modi. He neither uttered a word about the party’s chief ministerial candidate Sheila Dikshit, who was on the dais next to him, nor spoke about the Samajwadi Party or the BSP.
He accused Modi of not giving justice to the people and dividing the country on religious lines.
“I want to tell Narendra Modi, the RSS and BJP people that this country is demanding only one thing from the Prime Minister. You have asked us what the Congress has done in the last 60 years. We have given the people justice. This I understood during the yatra. We respected the scales of justice.”
“Narendra Modiji, when you give Rs 1.10 lakh crore to 15 people (he has been accusing the Government of waiving Rs 1.10 lakh crore debt of 15 industrialists) while India’s farmers are committing suicide and the youth remain jobless, then you are not respecting the scales of justice. You are throwing out the scales of justice. The country wants justice from you,” he said.
He said the Prime Minister had promised Rs 15 lakh to every Indian, assured farmers right price for their produce, guaranteed unemployed youth creation of 2 crore jobs every year, promised clean India and Make in India. “You did not implement all that. Yes, you certainly did two things. You made one Indian fight with another. You divided India,” he said.
“Wherever your people go, whether it is Haryana where you created Jat-non Jat fight or Gujarat where Patidars are saying they are being beaten up mercilessly or Assam where you stoked fire, in Uttar Pradesh you are making Hindus and Muslim fight with each other..This is what you have given the country. The country is suffering because of this and it is not progressing. The country only wants justice from you,” he said.