The Congress on Saturday took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for sending best wishes to Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan on the eve of the country’s National Day, alleging that he had been on good terms with the Pakistani establishment even earlier.
“Remember Modiji…you embraced (then Pakistani premier) Nawaz Sharif, called him to your inauguration and showed what a change it would be. It was you who shared a birthday bash, gave him gifts. While our PM never visited Pakistan, you gave him gifts and then you are teaching us lessons on Pakistan,” senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal asked at a press conference.
Official sources said Friday that Modi sent a letter to Khan, greeting the people of Pakistan on the eve of its National Day and highlighting the importance of a terror-free South Asia.
Modi’s message to Khan came in the midst of a severe strain in ties between the two nuclear-armed neighbours following the Pulwama attack and the subsequent air strikes by India on a JeM terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot.
Significantly, India Friday boycotted a reception at the Pakistan High Commission here to mark the National Day, objecting to invites extended to several separatist leaders from Jammu and Kashmir for the event.
The Congress leader said that soldiers were being killed everyday. He claimed the number of security personnel killed in terrorist attacks was rising ever since the Modi dispensation assumed office, citing strikes in Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Uri and Pulwama.
“More than 60 security personnel have been martyred since the Pulwama attack. Everyday our soldiers are martyred. Why is the ‘chowkidar’ asleep during these terror attacks,” asked Sibal.
He also said that it was unfortunate that the “many leader of thieves are telling us now that they are guards”.
Forty CRPF jawans were killed in the Pulwama terror attack in February.
Sibal also took a dig at the BJP for calling themselves chowkidars (watchmen) of the nation, claiming the prime minister was only protecting the rich.
He claimed that farmers, soldiers, Dalits and minorities were dying and small businesses had been ruined under the watch of the ‘chowkidar’.
Sibal said as many as 6,351 farmers committed suicide in 2016 while protests by farmers increased from 628 in 2014 to 4,837 in 2016.
“As many as 52 per cent of farming families are indebted today with an average outstanding loan of Rs 1 lakh. From July to December 2018, the minimum support price (MSP) increase merely covered the input cost and was way below the Swaminathan Commission recommendations,” he said.
He claimed that between 2010 and January 2019, 123 cases of cow-related violence were reported with over 50 per cent victims and 78 per cent of those killed in these incidents being Muslims.
“Ninety-eight per cent of these crimes took place after 2014 and in 14 states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party,” he claimed.
Quoting an Amnesty International report, he said that in 2018, there were 218 hate crimes, of which 192 were against Dalits and minorities.
He also raised the issue of demonetisation and how people allegedly suffered due to it.
“Thousands of small businesses had to close down, sowing of crops was delayed and demand collapsed which impacted farmers’ income. The GDP took a hit of close to 2 per cent in the quarter of demonetisation while 15 lakh jobs were lost in the first four months after demonetisation,” he said.
“Modi ji did chowkidari for Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Vijay Mallaya, Smriti Irani over her university degree and for himself over Rafale documents. He also turned chowkidar for those accused of violence,” he alleged.