Maharashtra polls: As Narendra Modi foregrounds Article 370 at Parli, Manmohan Singh attacks BJP over economic woes, rural distress

  • The Maharashtra Assembly election campaign on Thursday saw strongly-worded remarks from both the current prime minister and the previous one.

  • Modi, in his rally, foregrounded the abrogation of Article 370 and the development work undertaken by the Devendra Fadnavis led government.

  • Manmohan Singh, speaking at an interaction in Mumbai, attacked the BJP over the Centre's handling of the economy and rural distress.

The Maharashtra Assembly election campaign on Thursday saw strongly-worded remarks from both the current prime minister and the previous one. While Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Beed's Parli constituency, Manmohan Singh interacted with business professionals and the media on the state of the economy in Mumbai.

BJP-Shiv Sena will break all records in Maharashtra polls, says Modi

Modi, in his rally, foregrounded the abrogation of Article 370 and the development work undertaken by the Devendra Fadnavis-led government. In a blistering attack on the Congress, Modi said history will have a mention of those who ridiculed the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and that Maharashtra now has an opportunity to punish them.

Parli is expected to be among the most keenly-fought constituencies in the state. The late BJP leader Gopinath Munde's daughter Pankaja Munde (BJP) is contesting against his nephew Dhananjay Munde (NCP).

Modi, at his rally on Thursday, expressed confidence that the BJP-led alliance will break all victory records in the 21 October polls. He said the state polls are a battle between BJP's "karyashakti" (power of development) and Opposition's "swarthshakti" (selfishness).

"I trust you and your patriotism that you will teach a resounding lesson to those who speak against the interests of the country. History will take note of every person who ridiculed the abrogation of Article 370," Modi said, alleging that the Congress leaders provided "oxygen" to anti-India elements.

 Maharashtra polls: As Narendra Modi foregrounds Article 370 at Parli, Manmohan Singh attacks BJP over economic woes, rural distress

Narendra Modi addressing a rally in poll-bound Maharashtra. Image courtesy: Twitter/@narenrdramodi

He said some Congress leaders said if Kashmir had Hindu population, this decision would not have been taken. "When it comes to national integrity...you think of Hindu and Muslim. Does this suit you?" he asked.

He added, "Some Congress leaders said Article 370 abrogation is like murdering someone, India-Pakistan issue is not internal matter, abrogating Article 370 will lead to disaster in the country, Kashmir has been lost...the list is so long that I will have to stay here till 21 October to spell it out." Modi said the country is looking at an opportunity to punish the Congress.

"The opportunity is knocking at Maharashtra's doors. I have trust in your patriotism that you will teach a lesson to those who speak against the national interest," he said.

He also said that the process of jailing those who "looted" public money has begun.

"The Congress and NCP leaders must be gasping for breath seeing the huge response to BJP's rallies," he said. Modi said Beed gave him friends like late BJP leaders Gopinath Munde and Pramod Mahajan. "These two are no longer around. But, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Pankaja Munde are working to fulfil their dreams," he said.

The BJP cadre is hard-working and is winning hearts of the people, he said.

"While the Congress and NCP are fighting against each other, which is why many young leaders are quitting these parties, the seniors are tired and dejected. Now the seniors are openly saying they are tired," he said. "Can tired people serve you? What is the need of such people?," Modi asked.

Notably, senior Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde last week said his party and the NCP have become "tired".

Modi also highlighted the 'Jalayukta Shivar' water conservation scheme and the proposed Marathwada water grid, to provide relief to people the perennially parched region, as achievements of the Fadnavis-led state government.

He also that said Rs 2,000 crore was already deposited in farmers' accounts (as part of the PM-Kisan scheme).

Govt obsessed with blaming opponents: Manmohan Singh

Congress leader and former prime minister Manmohan Singh, speaking at an interaction in Mumbai, attacked the BJP over the Centre's handling of the economy and rural distress. He also said, in words that were uncharacteristically combative, that the Congress 'doesn't need a certificate of patriotism' from the BJP and RSS.

Click here for detailed coverage of Assembly Elections 2019

Manmohan on Thursday said that he does not think there is "any hope" of the Indian economy reaching the target of five trillion dollars by 2024 as the growth rate is "declining year after year".

Congress' senior leader and former prime minister Manmohan Singh addresses a press conference in Mumbai. PTI

Congress' senior leader and former prime minister Manmohan Singh addresses a press conference in Mumbai. PTI

"I have said this publicly before that to reach a goal of five trillion dollar by 2024, as against the 2.7 trillion dollar economy that we had in 2018, would require a growth rate of 10-12 percent per annum. What is happening in the BJP-led regime is that the government is faced with prospect of a declining rate of growth year after year," Manmohan said.

"IMF (International Monetary Fund) has come with a statement that India's growth rate during the current fiscal year will be only 6.1 percent as against 7.3 percent mentioned some months ago. With the growth rate declining year after year, I don't think there is any hope of economy reaching the target of five trillion dollars by 2024," he added.

Hitting out at the Modi-led government, he said, "The government is obsessed with trying to somehow fix blame on its opponents. In the process, it is unable to find solutions that will ensure the revival of the economy, particularly strengthening of our banking system."

He further said, "As demand and production have contracted due to economic mismanagement, business sentiments are down across the state and many firms face closure. The industrial slowdown is coming in India’s way to optimally utilize its demographic dividend. It is thus no surprise that many of our young men and women are taking up low paying jobs and investors are shifting to other states. Distress prevailing in our rural areas will add to the unemployment problems as migration increases."

The former prime minister also sought to counter the Central government on the issue of the abrogation of Article 370. Manmohan said that the Congress party had voted in favour of the bill to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and had opposed the manner in which it was implemented.

"The Congress party voted in favour of bill to abrogate Article 370, not against it. We believe Article 370 is a temporary measure but if a change has to be brought, it should be with the goodwill of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The manner in which it was implemented is what we opposed," Manmohan told the media.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Oct 17, 2019 18:54:29 IST