While Priyanka in Haryana likened Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Duryodhan from the Mahabharat, saying India has never forgiven “arrogance and pride”, Shah, addressing a rally in West Bengal, hit back, saying May 23 (the day Lok Sabha results will be announced) will determine who is Duryodhan and who is Arjun. The two leaders also sparred on former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who Modi had referred to as “Bhrashtachari Number 1” at a recent rally drawing sharp criticism from the Congress.
At a rally to support Congress candidate Kumari Selja in the Ambala constituency, Priyanka said the BJP has only tried to divert the attention of people from the failures of its central government.
“This country has never forgiven arrogance and pride and history is witness to this. The Mahabharat is witness to this, in which Duryodhan also had such arrogance. When Lord Krishna tried to make him see the truth, he tried to capture him instead,” she said.
Priyanka then read out a poem by Hindi poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, saying wisdom is the first casualty before someone’s downfall: “Jab naash manush par chhata hai, pehle vivek mar jata hai…”
She also said that if the Prime Minister has “courage” he should fight the elections on issues related to development, employment, farmers and women and tell them what he has done for them over the past five years and what he plans to do in the future.
She also targeted Modi on his ‘Bhrashtachari Number 1’ remarks while referring to her father and former PM Rajiv Gandhi. “When BJP leaders go out to campaign, they do not talk about issues… They raise other issues. Sometimes they say the elephant was sleeping for 70 years, sometimes they seek votes in the name of martyrs, and at other times they insult those from my family who sacrificed their lives,” she said. “These polls are not about one family, this election is about crores of families whose hopes and aspirations have been completely dashed by this government and the Prime Minister.”
Later, Shah, addressing a rally in Bankura district in West Bengal hit back. “I just came to know that Priyanka Vadra called Prime Minister Narendra Modi Duryodhan. Priyanka ji this is a democracy. Nobody becomes Duryodhan just because you call them so. We will find out on May 23 who is Duryodhan and who is Arjun,” he said.
Shah also continued to attack Rajiv Gandhi. “Recently Modi ji said that during Rajiv Gandhi’s time, Bofors happened. I want to ask Rahul whether during his party’s time Bofors happened or not, Bhopal gas tragedy happened or not, whether the Shanti Sena blunder happened, whether Kashmiri Pandits genocide happened or not? Don’t the people of the country know? Rahul Gandhi is saying that his father’s name has been sullied and humiliated but is telling the truth bad?” he said.
The BJP chief also attacked the TMC and WB Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and wondered aloud during his speech if “Jai Shri Ram” will be chanted in Pakistan if the slogan is not allowed in India. At another rally at Ghatal in West Midnapore district, he said, “Lord Ram is a part of the culture of India. Can anybody stop people from taking his name?” He also dared Banerjee to arrest him for chanting the same.
He also reiterated that the next BJP government will implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country to drive out “infiltrators and illegal citizens”. “The BJP government will identify all illegal immigrants from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and expel them. They are eating our country from insides like termites and are a threat to the country’s security. Mamata Didi and others are worried about infiltrators and want to keep them but for us, the security of the country is more important than votes,” he said.