Pushing the BJP's campaign in Gujarat into high gear, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asked Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi why his party applauded the release of a terrorist in Pakistan and why he hugged the Chinese ambassador during the Dokalam standoff.
Modi, who started his high-voltage campaign with a rally in Kutch district's Bhuj town, launched a stinging attack against the Congress party.
"You are happy to hug Chinese ambassador, you are clapping on the release of Hafiz Saeed, you cannot respect Indian Army's surgical strike. But why did you speak up about it? You could have just remained silent," he said.
Gandhi had recently tweeted: "Narendrabhai, baat nahi bani. Terror mastermind is free. President Trump just delinked Pak military funding from LeT. Hugplomacy fail. More hugs urgently needed."
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The tweet had come after the release of LeT founder and Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed by a Pakistan court.
Modi said the election in his home state is a contest between trust on development and dynastic politics He was addressing a BJP rally in Kutch district's Bhuj town ahead of the first phase of the elections on December 9.
"Recently Pakistani court released a terrorist, I cannot understand why these Congress people are clapping here," Modi said in his speech delivered in Gujarati.
He also alluded to allegations by Congress leaders, including the Congress vice president.
"This Gujarat son has no stains in his public life. You come to the state and level baseless allegations on the son of the soil... the people of the state will not forgive you," he said. During his campaign in the state in the last few days, Gandhi had trained his guns at the Modi-led government over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal.
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Taking a dig at the opposition party, which is making all out efforts to dislodge the long-ruling BJP in Gujarat, Modi asked, "When our soldiers... were standing eye-to-eye against the Chinese soldiers for over 70 days, at that time you were hugging the Chinese ambassador here...
"For whose benefit did you do this? I am asking you," Modi said, without taking any name.
He referred to the Mumbai 26/11 terror strike and the attack in Uri and asked what was the difference between one government and another, one leader and other.
The meaning of living and dying for the country can be known by the response, Modi said.
"They killed our soldiers in Uri, our soldiers went inside their territory, conducted a surgical strike and came back. The next day a newspaper said they (in Pakistan) carried bodies in trucks," he said.
Modi alleged that the Congress raised questions on the surgical strike in September 2016.
"They could not respect Indian Army, they asked questions like none of our soldiers was injured? None of them died? Have you any photo or video evidence? Had they gone to shoot a movie in Pakistan?" he said.
"When you go to the house of the poor and eat rotis, you ensure that you are filmed, but does that mean that a surgical strike should be filmed?" the prime minister asked.
Modi will address a series of campaign meetings today and on Wednesday in Saurashtra and South Gujarat, which go to the polls on December 9.
The second phase of elections to the 182-member Gujarat Assembly will be held on 14. The votes will be counted on December 18.