On Wednesday, while addressing an election rally in Haryana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in a combative mood. He read out a list of abuses hurled at him during the last 17 years by Congress leaders, starting from Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to leaders at the lower rung.
A few days ago, Modi had said in Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh that "your (Rahul's) father was praised as 'Mr Clean' by his courtiers, but his end came as 'Bhrashtachari (Corrupt) No. 1". This remark raised the heckles of Congress leaders, who alleged that the PM has insulted the memory of their departed leader. The Congress even complained to the Election Commission.
It was in this context that Modi read out the list of abuses that had been hurled at him over the years. Sonia Gandhi had described him as 'maut ka saudagar' (merchant of death), Mani Shankar Aiyar had described him as "neech" and Rahul Gandhi had been parroting the line 'Chowkidar Chor Hai' in almost all his rallies and press conferences.
Rahul Gandhi had also tweeted to Modi after the remark about his father: "The battle is over. Your Karma awaits you. Projecting your inner beliefs about yourself on to my father won't protect you. All my love and a huge hug."
A few days ago an interviewer had asked Rahul why he had insulted the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh by tearing up the ordinance. Rahul replied: "I love him. There is absolute mutual respect between us. I use the words love and respect for him, not just respect." So, if Rahul can insult his own Prime Minister and say he loves him, then there is nothing to be surprised about if he abuses the present PM as 'chor'.
There is no doubt that Narendra Modi has himself become the main issue in this general election. If you remove Modi's name, at least 90 per cent of the speeches of Congress leaders would go waste. Modi, on his part, chooses his topic depending on the time, occasion and venue. Modi was to address two election rallies in Haryana on Wednesday, and raised the issue of Robert Vadra's controversial land deals.
Modi said: "This chowkidar has taken the person who looted farmers to court. He is making rounds of ED and court to take bail. He used to think he is Shahenshah, now he is nervous. I have already taken him to the jail door. Give blessings and I will put him in jail within the next five years."
Vadra responded to Modi by saying: "I am shocked to hear my name again in your rally. Please stop digressing from glaring issues by taking my name." Vadra went on to tweet on Thursday: "Are they above the law to decide and claim who they can send where?"
Congress leaders are feeling the pinch because of Modi's remarks against Vadra, but they are silent. They have left it to Vadra to defend himself.
Modi did not stop at this. At the Ramlila ground in Delhi on Wednesday, Modi alleged that the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had taken his wife, in-laws from Italy, other family members and friends like Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan to spend an idyllic year-end vacation at Bangaram island near Lakshadweep in 1987. He alleged that Rajiv Gandhi had used the Indian Navy's largest warship INS Virat "as a taxi" for holidaying.
The 10-day holidaying began on December 30, and I still remember newspapers and magazines splashing stories and articles about Rajiv's year-end vacation. There were no private news channels those days and it was left to the print media to publish stories about the vacation. Clearly, Modi is raising issues where it hurts the Gandhi family.
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