Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday took a dig at Narendra Modi over Time magazine describing the Prime Minister as "India's Divider in Chief" for his brazen attempts to divide India on the basis of caste and religion to further his political ambitions.
Addressing a rally here in support of the Congress party's Gurdaspur candidate Sunil Jakhar, the Chief Minister contrasted Modi's poor international reputation, as endorsed by Time magazine, with the respect that leaders like Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and even Atal Bihari Vajpayee had earned for the nation at global forums such as the UN.
The magazine showed what the international community thought of Modi, who had lowered India's prestige in the global arena, he added.
Modi's shameful attempts to destroy the secular fabric of the country were a threat to its very existence, Amarinder said, exhorting the people to vote for the future and unity of India, whose diversity and secularism were its core strengths.
India needs a government that can keep it united, not leaders like Modi who are out to destroy the nation's unity, he added.
Modi, said the Chief Minister, had hit an all-time low with his speeches, which was a first for the country. The fight today is for saving the country, he said.
Apologising for the delay in reaching Bhoa village near here in Gurdaspur district, which was the result of being denied permission to land in Pathankot on the petty instructions of the Modi government, the Chief Minister said these were the cheap tactics that the Prime Minister was resorting to in sheer panic in the face of the BJP's imminent defeat in these polls.
Amarinder also lambasted Modi for trying to take credit for the Balakot air strikes, which was a victory not of the Prime Minister but the armed forces.
The nation salutes the forces, who had been making unparalleled sacrifices over the years to defend the people of India and its borders, he added.
By giving cross-border raids the new jargon of surgical strikes, Modi was misleading the people into believing that he had done something new or spectacular, when the fact was that there had been bigger such events in the past, including the 1971 war that divided Pakistan under Indira Gandhi, he added.
Citing unemployment as the biggest problem in the state, particularly in the border districts, including Pathankot, the Chief Minister said he had been advocating development of industry along the border belt to generate jobs for the people of the region.
Referring to the drugs problem, Amarinder said the ISI was pushing drugs into India and Punjab in order to destroy the youth here and strengthen its own hands.
He again urged caution vis-a-vis the Kartarpur Corridor, while reiterating that the opening of the corridor would fulfil a long-cherished desire of devotees aspiring to visit the historic gurdwara, now in Pakistan.
Earlier, sitting MP Sunil Jakhar also took a dig at his rival and BJP candidate Sunny Deol, saying while he may be adept at singing and dancing and pulling pumps out of the soil, he did not know anything about Gurdaspur or the problems of its people.
Jakhar said just as he could not sing and dance, Sunny had no idea about politics or being an effective representative of the people.
"I may not be able to entertain you but I will solve your problems by helping reopen sugar mills and setting up medical colleges," said Jakhar, urging the people to vote for the future of the country.
The Gurdaspur constituency, which has 14,68,972 voters, has a high number of serving and retired defence personnel and the BJP is trying to woo them by using the 'fauji' image of Deol.
Punjab will vote for its 13 seats on May 19.