Congress source of all problems in country, says Modi; takes bitter gourd jibe at rival party

CHANDRAPUR: In an acerbic attack on the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held the grand old party responsible for all ills plaguing the country and went on to compare the outfit to bitter gourd (karela), whose taste he said, will never change even if it is “fried in ghee or mixed with sugar”.

Seeking votes for the BJP-led NDA, he declared the ensuing Lok Sabha polls were a fight between stability and instability, and accused the opposition of seeking power only to indulge in corruption.

Addressing his first rally in Maharashtra for the 2024 elections, Modi targeted the Congress and its policies.

“The Congress is the source of all problems in the country. Who was responsible for the Partition of the country on the basis of religion…Kashmir (issue), Naxalism? Who opposed Ram temple construction and questioned the existence of Lord Ram. Who declined the Ram temple (inauguration) invite?” he asked the gathering at Chandrapur, the only Lok Sabha seat won by the Congress in 2019.

Modi was campaigning for BJP candidates Sudhir Mungantiwar (Chandrapur) and Ashok Nete (ST-reserved Gadchiroli-Chimur). Both these Lok Sabha seats are among five constituencies in the Vidarbha region that will vote in the first phase on April 19.

The country’s oldest party has lost people’s support due to its deeds and its recently released manifesto has the imprint of the pro-Partition Muslim League, he maintained.

“The Congress is out of power for 10 years and we have been been able to resolve all problems faced by the country. Naxal menace has come down drastically. The Congress was soft on terrorism for vote-bank politics. Even its manifesto has the Muslim League imprint,” Modi charged.

The PM compared the Congress to bitter gourd (karela), saying even if it is “mixed with sugar or fried in ghee, its taste will never change”.

Pitching the 2024 polls as a fight between ‘stability and instability’ , the PM pointed out that on one hand there is the BJP-led NDA whose aim is to take big decisions for the country and on the other there is the Congress and INDIA whose sole objective is to fill their own pockets on coming to power.

The BJP’s star campaigner maintained the INDIA bloc symbolises instability and no one better than Maharashtra can explain the importance of a stable government.

Modi claimed Maharashtra was ignored when INDIA grouping parties (a reference to its earlier avatar UPA led by the Congress) were in power at the Centre.

Attacking the erstwhile Uddhav Thackeray government (November 2019-June 2022) without taking its name, the BJP stalwart said when INDIA constituents formed a government in Maharashtra (under the banner of Maha Vikas Aghadi or MVA), they worked only to advance the interest of their families and friends.

“They played with the future of the people and demanded ‘commission’ for development projects and without commission they would stall these projects, be it a new airport or any other venture. They stalled the Jalyukt Shivar programme (water conservation scheme launched by BJP-led government) and irrigation projects,” the PM alleged.

“They had opposed the Samruddhi Expressway (between Mumbai-Nagpur) as well, stalled a refinery project in Konkan, Mumbai Metro work and even after getting funds for PM Aawas Yojana they stopped giving homes to the poor. They had only one aim — bring commission or stall projects,” he noted.

Modi asserted the ‘Mahayuti’ government, consisting of the Shiv Sena, the BJP and the NCP, is working round the clock and started taking forward stalled projects after assuming office in June 2022.

The PM said Dalits, tribals and backward communities consider the Modi government as their own. A major chunk of the beneficiaries of PM Awas Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana (related to cooking gas), free ration and other government welfare schemes are Dalit, tribals and OBCs.

The Congress created the Kashmir issue and the country slipped backwards during its long rule at the Centre, he asserted.

The PM held the Congress responsible for terrorism and Left Wing Extremism, and alleged the party used to give protection to terrorists as part of its appeasement politics.

Attacking the 1885-founded organisation further, Modi questioned, “Which party boycotted the consecration ceremony of Ram temple… which party did not give the Bharat Ratna to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar for decades?”

The top BJP leader said in the last 10 years, the ruling NDA has provided solutions to problems that prevailed in the country.

The PM noted Naxalism has weakened not only in Maharashtra, but across the country. Gadchiroli, once known as a Naxal-hit district, is now experiencing development and is home to steel industries.

Modi attacked the DMK, which rules Tamil Nadu, and alleged INDIA alliance partners are threatening to divide India again.

“They are talking about dividing South India. INDIA alliance partner DMK is talking about finishing Sanatan and linking Sanatana Dharma to malaria and dengue. And the Congress and fake Shiv Sena (referring to Uddhav Thackeray-led faction) are calling the same people for rallies in Maharashtra,” said the BJP’s star campaigner.

The PM slammed Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge for his statement asking why he (Modi) talks about the now abrogated Article 370 and Kashmir during his visits in other states.

Modi alleged the Congress has a divisive mindset and asked the gathering if they will accept this kind of language from the party on Kashmir.

The PM praised Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and said he and the Shiv Sena are taking party founder late Bal Thackeray’s ideology forward with vigour.

He said wood from Chandrapur was used for construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and new Parliament building in Delhi.

Speaking at the rally, Shinde slammed the Congress and asserted the party does not have the right to come out with a ‘jahirnama’ (manifesto) and instead it should ask for ‘mafinama’ (forgiveness).

Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis sought votes for BJP candidate Mungantiwar and Modi to ensure further development of the country.