Jalandhar: Launching a scathing attack on Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today accused it of following political opportunism to further its gains and said the party was a “thing of the past” which the people of Punjab must not trust.
He also said Congress is a “sinking ship” and people should not board it as it would not help them reach anywhere.
Addressing an election rally here, he also referred to the politically sensitive issue of Sutlej Yamuna Canal and said Punjab has the right to use water for irrigation.
Modi said waters from Indus river which flow into Pakistan as waste will be brought to Punjab. Haryana and Punjab are locked in a bitter legal and emotional battle over the issue for the past several years.
With Rahul Gandhi raking up the issue of drug menace in the state at a rally in Majitha, Modi hit back at him, saying, “Some people are taking politics to a new low by tarnishing the image of the youth of Punjab.”
He also said the pride of Punjabis has been tarnished by such statements and the Assembly polls in the state are the best way to reply to such remarks.
Continuing his broadside against Congress, he said the party is “like water and changes it shape to suit its political needs”.
“It is a strange party. It tied up with the Left in West Bengal to survive in the state. Whatever they (Left) gave (as seats), it accepted…In Uttar Pradesh, it attacked the Samajwadi Party in its yatras. Then it went for a pact…It saw an opportunity after a feud in SP…,” Modi said.
Dubbing “political opportunism” as the “forte” of Congress, he said the country is witnessing the results of “politics of destruction” the country has seen in the last 70 years. “Now, we have started politics of development,” he said.
Referring to demonetisation, he claimed he has been facing “atrocities” for the past three months. “Modi hun. Zulm ke samne jhukta nahin (I am Modi. I do not bow before atrocities),” he said.
The prime minister said his drive against corruption is an apolitical affair aimed at ridding the country of black money.
“But people who have amassed illegal wealth in the past 70 years are worried and are attacking me as they are still unable to digest the decision,” he said.
Claiming that Congress was not being able to come to terms with remaining “out of power”, Modi said it entered an alliance with SP in UP and the Left in West Bengal for “the lust of power”.
“Congress compromised with the Left which they had been fighting against for 50 years. But the hunger for power is such that they joined them.”
“For several months, they (Congress) took out rath yatra and chided SP… They came to know they are not being accepted by the public… They saw there is a division in the UP’s ruling family and then entered an alliance with SP,” he said.
He exhorted voters in Punjab to vote for the SAD-BJP combine for further development in the state.
On the surgical strikes conducted by the army across the LoC in September last year, Modi said people were proud of the force’s action against the country’s “enemy”.
“You did not want that the country’s enemy be given reply? How long our soldiers will continue to be killed… then Indian Army conducted surgical strike successfully,” he said.
Hitting out at Congress on the issue of One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP) schemes, Modi accused the Congress of “befooling” the ex-servicemen for 40 years.
The Prime Minister said when his government was formed, it decided to implement OROP and the budget for which was worked out at Rs 10,000 crore. “We have already disbursed Rs 6,000 crore and rest will be given after the Budget,” he said.
On the contentious Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue in Punjab, Modi said farmers of Punjab should also get water to grow crops.
Talking about demonetisation, he said more than Rs 150 crore was seized from the house of a minister in the Congress government in Karnataka. “More than Rs 150 crore was seized but neither Congress was thinking of removing him nor TV channels are highlighting this issue… It was like nothing has happened,” he said.
Modi said ever since his government was formed, farmers were not facing any problem in getting urea and asserted that the government had successfully eliminated corruption in fertiliser distribution. “Solutions to our problems lies only in development. We have seen politics of destruction for 70 years which have ruined the youth,” he said.
Modi exuded confidence that Punjab voters would create history by bringing SAD-BJP into the power for the third time. “This is the time for the Budget. Preparations are on for the Budget I am not being able to devote as much time as I want to,” he said, adding, “But I am confident that Punjab will create history during the election.”
Showering praises on Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Modi said he has always batted for peace and harmony in the state. “When there was tension between Sikhs and Hindus, it was Badal who played a role in ensuring unity between them,” he said, adding Punjab survived and grew because of the efforts of the Chief Minister.
“During elections, people frequently change their parties. Congress is full of turncoats. But look at Badal, he never changed his party and at heart and he remained committed to Punjab,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister further said that whenever he met Badal, the Akali patriarch always raised issues of farmers and poor.
Talking about LPG cylinder issue, Modi said 1.25 crore people have left gas subsidy. 1.50 crore gas connections have been allotted to poor families and in next three years five crore families would be given gas connection, he said.
The Congress on the other hand launched a mega offensive against the Badals in Punjab during the joint public rallies by its vice-president Rahul Gandhi on the same day.
Rahul Gandhi named Captain Amarinder Singh as the Congress Chief Ministerial candidate. Amarinder Singh is currently the Punjab Congress chief.
Rahul will campaign in Rampura Phul, Talwandi Sabo and Bathinda Urban, besides Majthia on Friday.
AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal too will be campaigning hard for the state and is expected to address a rally on the same day as his biggest political rivals.
Punjab will vote on February 4 and the counting will take place on March 11.