Updated: October 12, 2015 8:54:59 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal the “Nelson Mandela of India”. Reciprocating the compliment, Badal described Modi as a leader who would “fulfil aspirations of national heroes like Jayaprakash Narayan”. The two leaders were attending a programme in Delhi to mark the 113th birth anniversary of Jayaprakash Narayan.
Modi said: “Badal Sahab is sitting here…he is the Nelson Mandela of India. The only crime of people like Badal Sahib was that they had political views different from those in power,” he said.
When Badal rose to speak, he said Congress rule had done the country no good. “But now, the country has brought a big change by bringing a government at the Centre under the leadership of Mr Modi. This government is working tirelessly to restore the pristine glory of the country, thereby fulfilling the dreams of great national heroes like JP” he said.
Badal added that during the movement against Emergency, he and other leaders of his party courted arrest.
Speaking on how the SAD fought for democracy and press freedom at the time, Badal claimed he had turned down an offer from then PM Indira Gandhi to “rule Punjab forever”.
Notably, the exchange of compliments between Modi and Badal came at a time when the Punjab CM is under attack from the Opposition over the agrarian crisis in the state. Spotting an opportunity, the state government issued a statement on Modi’s praise on Badal.
Also, bumpy relations between the SAD and BJP appeared to have taken a back seat for the moment.
Meanwhile, the PM’s remarks triggered scathing criticism on Twitter, with the hashtag #YoBadalSoMandela trending shortly after his statement.
While Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, tweeted a question, “Badal Nelson Mandela of India?”, former Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh said, “Who says PM has no sense of humour? Either it is a tongue in cheek comment or the PM does not know what he is talking about. It is an insult to Nelson Mandela to compare someone like Badal with him”.
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