Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched a scathing attack on the Congress during his visit to Karnataka, accusing it of "shamelessly" taking a U-turn on Kashmir. Modi said that the Congress was using the language spoken by Pakistan.
Modi's sharp comments came a day after senior Congress leader P Chidambaram pitched for greater autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir.
Modi told BJP workers in the state that his government would not compromise with the country's unity and integrity.
"All of a sudden, those who were in power till yesterday have taken a U-turn. Shamelessly, they are making a statement and are lending their voice for Kashmir's azaadi," Modi said.
Without taking Chidambaram's name, the prime minister said, "I'm surprised that those who were in power at the Centre, those who were responsible for the country's internal security and national security (are saying this)."
Modi said the country has no hope or expectations from the Congress.
Noting that Sardar Patel took important decisions for the country's unity, he said thousands of jawans have sacrificed their lives for Kashmir. "The country's soldiers have sacrificed their lives every moment for the sake of security of the motherland and innocent citizens of Kashmir.
"I want to ask the people of Bengaluru, can the country benefit from such people who are playing politics on the sacrifice of our soldiers? They don't have any shame in saying this. The Congress party will have to give an answer for this (Chidambaram's) statement...," he said.
Modi said, "Those bravehearts who have sacrificed their lives, mothers who have lost their sons for the country... that mother is asking the question, that sister who has lost her brother is asking the question and the child who has lost his father is asking the question."
But, he said, the Congress was "shamelessly using such language that is used by the separatists on Kashmir's land. (They are) using the language that is spoken by Pakistan."
Stressing that this was the land of Sardar Patel, he said, "We will not compromise with the country's unity and integrity.."
Chidambaram had told reporters in Rajkot in poll-bound Gujarat on Saturday, "The demand in the Kashmir Valley is to respect the letter and spirit of Article 370, that means they want greater autonomy. My interactions in Jammu and Kashmir led me to the conclusion that when they ask for azaadi, mostly, I am not saying all... the overwhelming majority, they want autonomy."
Chidambaram replied in the affirmative when he was asked if he still thinks that Jammu and Kashmir should be given greater autonomy.
Chidambaram had in July 2016 advocated greater autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, saying India should restore the "grand bargain" under which Kashmir had acceded by granting a large degree of autonomy to it.
At the BJP workers' meet in Karnataka, Modi also said when India carried out the surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) in September last year, "our soldiers hit back at our enemy. It was a moment of great pride for the whole nation, but the Congress party could not digest that also". The prime minister said, "After the statement of the Congress leader (Chidambaram), I can understand what the reason for their anger towards the surgical strikes was."
Defending India's diplomatic strength during Doka La standoff, he said, "The heroism of our brave soldiers, India's diplomatic strength, India's courage, its restraint, the whole world saw it at Doka La (during the standoff with China).
"However strong China may be, in the test of restraint, India has lived up. Today it is India's ability which the world is looking at with respect... The Congress people are every day spreading false information in the name of Doka La."
Modi said there was a feeling that after electoral defeats, "some sensible people" in the Congress will try to bring the party on the right path. "But one or the other I'm seeing and hearing their statements and actions that are irresponsible...It looks the Congress has decided not to improve," he said.
Modi landed at the Mangaluru airport and flew to Dharmasthala in a helicopter and prayed at the Manjunatheshwara temple in Dharmasthala, about 100 kilometres away from Mangaluru. The prime minister also sought the blessings of blessings of Sri Sri Shankara Bharati Mahaswamiji during the "Dashamah Soundaryalahari Parayanotsavah" and chanted the Soundaryalahari and Dakshinamurthy stotras of Sri Shankaracharya by around one lakh devotees at the Palace grounds in Bengaluru on Sunday.
Modi also attacked the Congress over corruption in development funds at Dharmasthala and Bidar. At Dharmasthala, he asked which was the "hand" that reduced every rupee of government money to 15 paise before it reached the beneficiary and later at Bidar he lauded the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme (DBT) which ensures Rs 57,000 Cr from govt revenue that earlier went to the middlemen is now going directly to the rightful owner.
Addressing a public rally in Ujjire near Dharmasthala, a temple town in Dakshina Kannada, Modi also took a dig at the opposition for its criticism of demonetisation aimed at making the economy less dependent on cash, saying even parents limit cash given to their children because it spoils them.
Without naming Rajiv Gandhi, Modi recalled that a former prime minister had said that from every rupee sanctioned by the government, only 15 paise reached its beneficiary in a village.
He said this was not the case with his government that was committed to devoting every rupee and every resource for the welfare of Indians so that fruits of development reached the beneficiaries without any scope of corruption.
Beginning his address in Kannada at Dharmasthala, the prime minister, at the event organised by the charitable trust of the Sri Kshetra Dharmastala Rural Development Project, gave away RuPay cards to the Self Help Groups enrolled for Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and launched their digitised cashless transactions.
He said such self-help groups, who have pledged to conduct their businesses cashlessly, have answered all those who spoke against demonetisation, questioning how was it possible to become cashless in a country where the poor and less literate have no digital connectivity.
He urged people to use the BHIM App and embrace cashless transactions in the "era of honesty and integrity" where there "is no place for those who cheat the system".
The prime minister urged farmers to conserve water and work with the motto "one drop, more crop".
Modi urged Karnataka farmers to take up the methods of drip and seaweed irrigation methods that can help in soil and water conservation.
Later, in the evening the prime minister arrived at Bidar to inaugurate the Bidar-Kalburgi rail route and flagged off the first train on the line before addressing the public.
'Congress is good at atkana, latkana and bhatkana'
"Congress would begin a lot of projects for seeking political mileage but then they would be halted in the middle," Modi said while addressing the public at Bidar. Lauding BS Yedyurappa' efforts in completing the rail Bidar-Kalburgi track, Modi said Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the first to come up with the rail route idea but the Congress government then halted the whole project.
Modi left no stones unturned to emphasise on how Congress is good at 'atkana, latkana and bhatkana' which has hampered the growth of the country. "While we're fighting corruption, Congress has become insensitive. Gujarat was devastated by floods this year. But Congress leaders, instead of reaching out to people there, preferred coming to Bengaluru," the prime minister said.
Enlisting achievements of his government, the prime minister said,"We said we'll bring electricity to 18,000 houses in 1,000 days. It's not 1,000 days yet and 15,000 houses have access to electricity."
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Oct 30, 2017 16:11 PM