Under attack from the Opposition, especially the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday that some people are hell-bent upon denting his image and have given a “supari” (contract) for it, colluding with people inside and outside the country.
Addressing a gathering in Bhopal after flagging off the 11thVande Bharat Express which will run between Bhopal’s Rani Kamalapati station and New Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin station, the Prime Minister said, “There are some people who took a pledge in 2014 to malign Modi’s image… Iske liye in logon ne bhaanti bhaanti ke logon ko supari de rakhi hai aur khud bhi morcha sambhale huye hain… yeh log desh ke bhitar hai, kuch log desh ke bahar bhi kaam kar rahe hain (They have given a contract to different people, and are leading from the front… some are within the country and some are working outside the country).”
He said these people had taken a pledge to “dig Modi’s grave” – “Sankalp liya hai: Modi teri kabar khudegi” – but have been unsuccessful because the people of the country are his protective shield.
“The poor, the middle class, the tribals, the Dalit, each and every Indian is today Modi’s suraksha kavach,” he said.
He said this is why his opponents are resorting to tactics of every kind to malign his image.
The Prime Minister’s remarks come in the wake of the Congress raising the pitch against him after its leader Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from Lok Sabha following his conviction in a 2019 defamation case over his remarks on the Modi surname. The BJP had also insisted on an apology from Gandhi over his remarks in the UK on Indian democracy.
Taking a swipe at the Congress, Modi said they probably thought that the decision to flag off the Vande Bharat was an April Fool’s Day prank. “But see, the train has run. This is a symbol of our ability and confidence,” he said.
“They (previous Congress governments) considered one family as the first family of the country and ignored the poor and middle class. The Railways is a living example of this,” he said.
Calling the Railways the transport choice of the common man, he said since Independence, successive governments did not modernise the Railways that the British left behind.
“They (previous governments) were busy in vote bank appeasement (tushtikaran) while we are committed to work for the satisfaction (santushtikaran) of the people. Shouldn’t this system have been modernised post Independence?” he said.
He said in the past people were so fed up with the standard of service in the Railways that they had even stopped complaining. “Earlier, there used to be complaints about cleanliness in Railways. Even being in a station for a few moments used to be a punishment,” he said.
The aim of his government, he said, was to transform the railway sector and make travel convenient for citizens.
Speaking of the Vande Bharat, Modi said the train is a “superhit”, especially among the youth of the country. “Today, I am happy to note that all Members of Parliament request for a Vande Bharat service in their constituencies,” he said.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Madhya Pradesh Governor Mangubhai Patel and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan were present at the flagging-off ceremony.