With Rahul Gandhi set to take over as Congress president, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday compared his elevation to “Aurangzeb raaj”, and said it showed the party’s helplessness that it was forced to appoint someone “out on bail”.
Addressing a rally in Malapada village in Dharampur taluka of Valsad district, Modi took off on part of a remark made by former Union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar on the criticism directed at the Congress presidential election. “Today, a leader of the Congress said — I don’t know whether with pride or sarcasm — but I would like to quote what he said, and he is a former minister and deep in bhakti (devotion) of this parivar,” Modi said. Adding that Aiyar had commented, ‘Jehangir ki jagah jab Shahjahan aaye, kya tab election hua tha? Shahjahan ki jagah Aurangzeb aaya tab koi election hua tha? Badshah hai, uski aulaad ko hi satta milegi (When Shahjahan came in place of Jehangir, was there an election? When Aurangzeb replaced Shahjahan, was there an election? The emperor’s son will automatically get the throne)’, Modi said, “Yeh Aurangzeb raaj unko mubarak (Let them have this Aurangzeb reign). For us, the 125 crore people of the country are the high command.”
Speaking to ABP News, Aiyar had talked of the Mughal succession of power, but added, “Lekin, democracy mein chunaav hota hai, aur Shehzaad Poonawala ko amantran mein de raha hoon, ki aapko yahaan aake khada hona ho to aap pahonch jaiye, application dijiye (But, in a democracy, elections are held, and I invite Shehzad Poonawalla that if you want to come here and stand for elections, come and file an application).”
A Maharashtra Congress leader, Poonawalla had called the party presidential election “rigged” and a “farce”.
In his speech, Modi said the Congress had chosen for president someone who was out on bail and “whom the court had directed to be prosecuted in a corruption case” — without referring to the National Herald case. “We would think 70 times before appointing such a person even as district president… This gives a glimpse of the Congress culture,” the PM said.
Modi also accused the Congress of “shaming” Gujarat, saying such people should be “punished”. Citing “injustice” to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Morarji Desai, he said, “We have to punish those who cannot stand Gujarat and its people. They (the Congress) were running their kingdom in Uttar Pradesh, were we defaming them? in Bihar, Bengal… were we defaming them?… That Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is a Gujarati, is it our fault? That he united the royals, and only Kashmir’s case was with you (the Congress), and still there is no solution to it… He was from Gujarat… is that why you can’t digest it?”
Calling Morarji Desai “the son of Valsad”, Modi said he had challenged Indira Gandhi ‘s prime ministership, and “so you put him in jail… So much scorn and hatred for Gujarat!” He exhorted the people to vote against the Congress, saying, “Once, you have to teach these people a lesson… For God’s sake, stop this shaming of Gujarat in the country and the world.”
Modi also attacked the Congress for calling the BJP communal — “enemy of the minorities… Muslims” — during its campaigns of 2002, 2007 and 2012 Assembly elections. “In 2017, has any Congress leader called the BJP communal? This means the Congress has accepted that the allegations were wrong. Now the Muslims have understood and rejected the lies of the Congress,” said Modi.
Referring to Rahul’s temple visits in Gujarat, Modi said there used to be “competition” earlier to be secular. “One would say I am 4 kg more secular, another would say I am 6 kg more secular, and the third would say, I am 10 kg more secular… But what is the competition for the 2017 polls? After 70 years, where all they have to go to?” Modi asked the gathering, that shouted in one voice, “temples”.
“Today, over 70 years, their chappals have worn out, but Gujarat’s public is not so gullible, they have the sense to tell apart tricks and lies,” Modi added.
The PM also criticised the Congress for stalling the Bill to give constitutional powers to the National Commission for Backward Classes, in the Rajya Sabha.
In the Dharampur taluka known for its dense bamboo forests and industry, he mocked former governments for not being able to tell if bamboo was a grass or a tree. “We have passed an ordinance that bamboo is grass and anybody can sow bamboo on their land and even cut it.”
During the rally, his first of the day, Modi also called and waved out to a “Dollar” in the crowd. “I saw him (Dollar) as a little boy… he’s so grown up now,” he said. Later, he called out to “Sumitraben”, saying she had once served him “soup”. “Here is a prime minister who knows 200 people in Dharampur by name,” Modi remarked.
Rahul Vasani, 35, the “Dollar” the PM was referring to, told The Indian Express he had met Modi at a shakha and kept in touch with him.