Launching a scathing attack on the Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi, BJP national president J P Nadda Tuesday said it was facade for its ‘Bharat Todo’ (Dividing India) agenda. Nadda said the Congress party was the one which had sided with those who shouted slogans against the execution of Afzal Guru and about dividing India.
BJP candidate Jetha Ahir, who is also the deputy Speaker of the Gujarat Assembly, said that the BJP would “send a naked Kejriwal back to Delhi”.
Speaking at an election rally at Shehra in Gujarat’s Panchmahal district where Ahir is the candidate, Nadda took a dig at the Congress party for organising a ‘Bharat Jodo’ rally after being part of an alleged anti-India sloganeering on Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus.
Nadda alleged that when Congress did not respect former deputy prime minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who united the nation, it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who gave due respect to the leader by building his statue.
“Now I am told Rahul Gandhi has finally arrived to campaign in Gujarat. Better late than never. But only the Congress knows if it is doing a ‘Bharat Jodo’ or ‘Bharat Todo,” he said.
He reminded the gathering about the prolonged delay in hanging Afzal Guru, the mastermind in the 2001 Parliament attack, in February 2012 when the Congress was in power. Nadda said, “They (Congress) are people who say ‘Afzal hum sharminda hain tere kaatil zinda hain’, (translated as Afzal we are ashamed your killers are alive). They rue the hanging of Afzal, who was given capital punishment by the Supreme Court, and whose clemency petition was rejected by the then President Pranab Mukherjee.”
The university had witnessed protests in the campus in protest against the death sentence awarded to Afzal Guru.
“Rahul Gandhi stands with such people in JNU and in that same event there were also slogans that said ‘Bharat tere honge tukde tukde inshallah inshallah’ (translated as ‘India, you will be chopped into pieces’). He (Rahul) should first piece together his own party and then go out to unite the country.”
Nadda came down heavily on Rahul Gandhi for walking along with Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan activist. “Who is he (Gandhi) roaming with? Medha Patkar? Do you know who she is? She is the one who stood against Gujarat and delayed the completion of the Sardar Sarovar project for 15 years by orchestrating mindless protests. Instead of protecting the rights of the poor, she created obstacles in the raising of the height of the dam,” the BJP president said.
Nadda said that today the dam is complete and the water reaches Saurashtra and fills up 115 dams and provides water round the clock to the people there. “After Modi became the Prime Minister, in 17 days, he gave permission to raise the dam by 17 metres. Do you want to vote for people who suppress the voice of Gujarat and are opposed to development?” he asked.
The Gujarat assembly elections are slated to be held in two phases on December 1 and 5. The results of the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections held on November 12 would be announced on December 8.
Nadda lashed out at the Congress for “shedding crocodile tears” for the issues related to tribals and the Other Backward Communities (OBC). “There are tribal people and OBCs in this audience today. Which other party has thought about tribals and OBC other than the BJP? Many will shed crocodile tears but the one who has tried to change your fate on the ground is the BJP under the leadership of Modiji. Why didn’t anyone from the tribal community ever sit in the seat of the President for so many years?”
Nadda heaped praises on PM Modi, who first made a Dalit sit on the President’s chair, and then made a tribal woman – Draupadi Murmu – the President. Modi has given the tribal community respect in the world, said Nadda, while criticising the Congress for never holding an annual tribal day when they were in power.
He lauded the PM for taking measures to set up a tribal welfare institute, document the contribution of the tribals in the freedom struggle, and do research on the contribution of tribals to nation-building.
Nadda said that the Congress “played” with the OBC community for years in the name of creating commissions. “It is Modiji who turned the Commission into a national body – the National OBC Commission and gave the respect that OBCs deserve.”
Without naming Kejriwal, Nadda also attacked the Aam Aadmi Party, saying that in Uttar Pradesh, the AAP contested in 350 seats and lost their deposit in 349. “In Uttarakhand, they lost their deposit in 68 seats and their CM candidate switched over to the BJP. During the Goa elections, when I landed in Goa, I was stunned to see the number of banners they had put up there – the face of the same leader (Kejriwal) and the locals were so hopeful saying, ‘See the results when they come’. I said, let’s wait. And what happened? They lost their deposit in 35 of the 39 seats They are a banner-based party, we are a cadre-based party,” he criticised.
Nadda also hailed various development schemes under the leadership of PM Modi such as Ayushman Bharat scheme, Indira Awas Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana and the Covid-19 vaccines. Nadda said that during his tenure as MLA, many people approached seeking medical aid for expensive surgeries. “Poor people would come to ask for a grant of Rs 2 lakh and I would have to tell them that I can give you Rs 1 lakh but it was as good as giving nothing because how can you save someone’s life by giving only half the amount needed for the treatment? So when I became the union health minister, Modiji gave me a huge responsibility and told me to make healthcare free for all poor,” Nadda said, recalling the measures taken by the then government which paved way for Ayushman Bharat scheme under which poor persons can avail of medical treatment up to Rs 5 lakh per year.
Regarding Covid-19 vaccines developed in India, Nadda said that while it took decades for India to get vaccinations for other illnesses in the past, India produced two Covid-19 vaccines within nine months due to “the leadership of Modiji”.
The former minister said that it took 25 years for a TB dose to reach India, 28 years for Tetanus vaccine to be available in India and a century to have a vaccine against Japanese Flu. “The vaccine had been ready in 1906 in Japan but came to India in 2006. But look at when Covid-19 struck the world in 2020 Modiji had formed a task force immediately. And within nine months, we had not one but two vaccines,” he said.
At a time when Europe has not been able to come out of Covid, Nadda said that India has been able to thwart Covid. “No one is wearing a mask and people are sitting so close. This is the protective shield of Modiji’s vaccine given to the 19 crore people. The United States has not been able to finish its vaccination programme. We have given vaccines to 100 countries, out of which 48 have received our vaccination for free. We are not a country who takes, but a country who gives,” the BJP president pointed out.
Nadda asked the audience to “protect” Jetha Ahir until December 5, so that he could “protect you after December 8”. “It is your duty to make Jetha win. It is your contribution to nation building and development,” he said.
Five-term MLA Ahir, who also addressed the crowd, said that the party workers in Shehra had set a “target of 1 lakh victory margin”. “Like Arjun only saw the fish eye in Mahabharata, you only have to see the button of the ‘Kamal’ (BJP symbol of lotus) in the voting booth. Our workers have fixed a target that we are going to win Shehra by 1 lakh votes. There is no doubt that the BJP is going to form the government in Gujarat,” Ahir said while adding that Kejriwal’s promise of freebies is not going to work as “Modiji has been giving us free benefits for a long time”. The people of Gujarat trust the BJP, Ahir said.