Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while speaking after laying foundation for Mahamana Pt Madan Mohan Malaviya Cancer Centre at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, took a potshot at Rahul Gandhi for his “earthquake” remark.
“Ek yuva neta hain, abhi bhaashan seekh rahe hain. Jab se unhone bolna seekha hai, meri khushi ka koi paar nahin (There is a young politician, he has now begun learning the art of speaking. I have been very happy ever since he started speaking),” Modi said.
“Naa bolte toh bada bhukamp aajata, aur desh ko kitna bada bhukamp jhelna padta ki desh 10 saal tak ubhar na pata. (A huge earthquake would have hit India if he hadn’t spoken and it would have taken 10 years for the nation to recover from it),” he said.
“Lekin achha hua bolna shuru kar diya, toh pata chal raha hai bhukamp ki sambhaavna bachhi hi nahin. (Good that he spoke, now we know there is no possibility of an earthquake),” the Prime Minister said while mocking the Congress Vice-President.
Rahul had earlier this month warned of an ‘earthquake’ if he speaks on demonetisation in Parliament and claimed that the ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes was the biggest scam in the history of India.
The Prime Minister also hit out at the Opposition, saying he never thought political leaders will support corruption. “Notes ban is a big cleanliness drive and people are supporting our drive. But the Opposition is siding with corruption. I had never thought some political leaders would have the audacity to stand with the corrupt,” he said.
The Prime Minister also attacked Pakistan in his speech and said: “To infiltrate militants into India, Pakistan resorts to firing along the border. The militants sneak into the Indian side of the border as soon as the Indian soldiers retaliate to the firing by Pakistan”.
Stringent security measures were in place across the city in view of his visit. The prime minister also interacted with booth-level BJP workers of his parliamentary constituency.
He is also scheduled to take part in a cultural festival, flag off a Trade Facilitation Centre and Crafts Museum, and launch schemes, programmes of Textiles Ministry. Modi arrived in Varanasi around 10:30 am.
According to Senior Superintendent of Police Nitin Tiwari, more than 5,000 security personnel have been pressed into service to ensure fool-proof security arrangements during the nearly five-hour-long period the Prime Minister is likely to spend in the city.
He said 12 SP rank officials, 17 Additional SPs and 42 Deputy SPs would be supervising constables of state police and Provincial Armed Constabulary besides jawans from central paramilitary forces who have been deployed in every nook and corner of the city.
The security arrangements have been put in place in consultation with the elite Special Protection Group (SPG) which is directly responsible for the Prime Minister?s security.
An SPG team has been camping in the city since Sunday and regularly inspecting the venues of functions to be attended by the Prime Minister besides holding meetings with administrative officials here in connection with security arrangements.
Heavy restrictions have been imposed on vehicular traffic which will remain in place until the Prime Minister’s departure which is scheduled at around 3 pm.
Barricades have been placed at nearly 400 spots across the city.
At the sprawling Diesel Locomotive Works premises, where will interact with party workers, the overhead water tank has been converted into a temporary watch tower with nearly a dozen policemen perched atop.
Sniffer dogs and bomb disposal squad had surveyed the ground where the function is to be held.
This is the Prime Minister’s first visit to his Lok Sabha constituency since demonetisation which is expected to become a major issue in the upcoming assembly polls in view of the inconvenience caused to people from all walks of life due to shortage of currency.
Notably, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, one of the most vehement critics of the move who had also unsuccessfully contested against Modi from here in the 2014 general elections had held a rally in the city earlier this month attacking the government on the issue.
The Modi government as well as the BJP have been countering the criticisms from opposition parties asserting that it was a bold step taken with a view to eliminating black