The Congress party is separated from the hopes and aspirations of the people of India and is “speaking the language used in Pakistan”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here Sunday, in a strong reaction to senior Congress leader P Chidambaram’s statement calling for greater autonomy for Jammu & Kashmir.
“Those in power until yesterday have suddenly taken a U-turn and are shamelessly raising their voice for autonomy in Kashmir. Those doing politics over the lives of martyrs cannot be expected to develop India. They have no shame in doing this. The Congress must give an answer for this. The mother who lost her son and the sister who lost her brother and the children of soldiers who fought to protect Kashmir are asking questions and the Congress shamelessly uses the language of the separatists in Kashmir and the language used in Pakistan,” the PM said during a brief address to BJP workers in Bengaluru on a day-long visit to Karnataka.
At an interaction on Saturday in Rajkot, Chidambaram, a former Union home minister, had reiterated his earlier stance backing greater autonomy for J&K. “When they ask for azadi, most people — I am not saying all — an overwhelming majority want autonomy,” he had said.
Without taking Chidambaram’s name, Modi said he would not allow “compromise on the security of the country”, in “the land of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel”. “Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel took important decisions for the security and integrity of the country. For Kashmir hundreds of youths have martyred their lives. There is no state from where youths have not sacrificed their lives for Kashmir.”
He accused the Congress of belittling his government’s achievements such as “surgical strikes” and Doklam. “When the surgical strikes happened, it was a moment of pride for the whole of India, but the Congress could not stomach it. Now I understand, after the recent comments of its leaders, why the Congress was upset with the surgical strikes.”
On the stand-off with China at Doklam, the PM said, “The sacrifice of the brave, the diplomatic capabilities of India and the courage of India… the entire world saw in Doklam… however powerful the opposition may be, India stands firm. Today, when the world is watching India with respect, these same Congress people are spreading fake news about Doklam. They are separated from the hopes and aspirations of the country.”
The PM’s attack on the Congress over Kashmir comes after the Centre appointed former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma as its special representative to “initiate and carry forward a dialogue” in the state, and two days after Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani asked senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel for explanation following the arrest of a former employee of a hospital of which he is a trustee, over alleged Islamic State links.
In a small reference to the forthcoming elections in Karnataka, Modi said on Sunday that he gets the feeling that the people of the state are impatient for polls. “People want to be connected to speedy development like the rest of India. I am confident that after the polls, Karnataka will be aligned with speedy development,” Modi said. “The country has no hope of development from the Congress.”
Earlier, the PM visited the Manjunatha Swamy temple at Dharmasthala, in Dakshina Kannada district, where he gave 12 lakh Ru Pay cards to women in self-help groups run by the temple authorities under the aegis of the Sree Kshetra Dharamsthala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP).
Modi lauded the head of the SKDRDP, Veerendra Heggade, saying he had proven the critics of digitisation and cashless economy wrong through those Ru Pay cards. “Last November, December and in January, stalwarts made speeches in Parliament… These stalwarts who see themselves as Tees Maar Khan, who think themselves as the epitome of knowledge, used to say that in India there is poverty, lack of education, how can digital transaction work… But Veerendraji has proven them wrong. As many as 12 lakh people have decided that they will do their transactions in cashless form,” Modi said.
Highlighting the direct benefit transfer scheme, Modi said because of the government’s efforts, Rs 57,000 crore “going into someone’s hand illegally” had been stopped and the money was now reaching the right beneficiary.
The PM added that there was a need to study the contributions of institutions like those linked to the Dharmasthala temple in the development of the country. “There are rankings for business schools, colleges etc, but none for religious places. There is a need to understand the contribution of institutions that give hope to people, and this is one of those,” he said.
Later in the evening, Modi attended a religious event, Dashamah Soundarya Lahari Parayanotsava Mahasamarpane, where shlokas composed by Adi Shankaracharya were recited by thousands, and inaugurated a new railway line between Bidar and Kalaburagi in north Karnataka.