Asserting his government’s resolve to fight corruption and nepotism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hit out at the “united Opposition”, saying disparate parties are coming together out of fear and negativity as their leaders are afraid of being caught by the government for their involvement in corruption.
Sounding the poll bugle in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Mr Modi attacked the proposed “Mahagatbandhan” of Opposition parties that vowed to dislodge him in the coming Lok Sabha polls at last week’s meeting in Kolkata and said, “All they have in common is hatred for me.”
“They say that keeping aside all other considerations they must unite to remove this watchman. However big a group they form, out of fear and negativity, Narendra Modi will stand firmly with the poor,” he said at a BJP rally in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai.
The Congress has repeatedly used the “watchman” sobriquet to target the Prime Minister, with party chief Rahul Gandhi even coining the slogan “Chowkidar chor hai” while levelling corruption allegations against Mr Modi in the Rafale jet deal.
Looking to make corruption a poll plank in the Lok Sabha election, Prime Minister said, “All those who were used to making deals in government contracts, defence deals and welfare schemes are now facing the music. That is why they are all coming together.” Assuring “justice” against the country’s economic offenders, Mr Modi said, “Any person who has cheated or looted the country shall be brought to justice. This is regardless of whether he is in India or abroad.”
The Prime Minister was apparently referring to economic offenders — Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi — who are wanted in connection with defaulting on huge bank loans but are now abroad.
Mr Modi also hit out at critics of the 10 per cent quota for the economically weaker sections.
“It is unfortunate that an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust is being created by a few people in Tamil Nadu to serve their own selfish interests,” he said, obliquely referring to the DMK’s move to challenge in the Madras high court the Constitutional amendment providing for 10 per cent EWS quota.
At a Yuva Morcha rally in Kerala’s Thrissur, Mr Modi slammed the Congress and the Left parties, saying they have no respect for institutions, including the Election Commission, and all their talk of democracy is the “biggest joke”.
“The Congress and communists talking about democracy is the biggest joke. What is happening in some parts of Kerala… political workers are killed just because their ideology is different from the communists,” he said and added that the mindset of the Emergency still lives in the minds of many Congress leaders.
The Prime Minister, who was in Kerala for the second time this month, once again raked up the Sabarimala issue and alleged that the cultural ethos of the state was under attack from the ruling Communist party in the state.
“Issue of the Sabarimala Temple has got the attention of the nation, people are seeing the manner in which the Communist government is disrespecting all aspects of our culture,” he said.
Mr Modi slammed the Congress-led Opposition, United Democratic Front, in Kerala for implicating former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in an espionage case, saying they did so “as some party leaders wanted to settle political scores”.
The Prime Minister said it was an “honour” for his government to have got the opportunity to confer the Padma Bhushan on Mr Narayanan, who was implicated in a false case.
“A few years ago, a hard working and patriotic ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan was implicated in a false case just because a few UDF leaders wanted to settle political scores,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s attacks on Opposition parties have sharpened since last week, when 23 parties held a mega rally in Kolkata under the initiative of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.