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Modi in Kargil martyr row

New Delhi, April 29: A cola ad that a Kargil hero had immortalised in a different context has landed Narendra Modi and the BJP in a controversy.

Modi had invoked the slogan “Yeh Dil Maange More”, asking for more seats for the party, at a rally today in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh.

“A son of the soil, Captain Vikram Batra, who sacrificed his life, had said ‘Yeh dil maange more (this heart desires more)’. I too say, ‘Yeh dil maange more’. We want all the four Lok Sabha seats from Himachal Pradesh,” Modi said.

Captain Batra, Param Vir Chakra, had quoted the Pepsi slogan in a TV interview during the 1999 Kargil war shortly before he fell fighting, aged 24. He belonged to Palampur.

His mother Kamal Kanta Batra, 66, is contesting on an Aam Aadmi Party ticket from Hamirpur constituency, which includes Palampur. The retired schoolteacher is pitted against the BJP’s outgoing MP Anurag Thakur on her poll debut.

Modi’s use of the slogan drew criticism from the Batra family. “Doing politics over the name of Vikram Batraji, I don’t think, is good,” Vikram’s father G.L. Batra said. “I think it does not behove them.”

An emotional Kamal Kanta said: “Even we have never used Vikram’s name or slogan in the campaign as he belongs to the entire nation.”

BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi added to the controversy by saying that elections are not fought on the basis of “who is whose mother or daughter, they have to perform”.

“It was a company’s slogan; it’s not their slogan. And isn’t she asking for votes as Vikram Batra’s mother? A martyr’s words are to be respected and cannot be owned by anyone,” Lekhi said.

The BJP spokesperson continued: “Dil Maange More is in the martyr’s memory, not in his mother’s memory. Martyrs’ words are to be respected and can be owned by anyone. It does not become the private property of a family.”

Modi later said he would “rather quit politics than even think of insulting our martyrs and their parents”.

The Aam Aadmi Party asked why, if he had so much respect for Vikram’s parents, Modi had not met them at the time of the Kargil war although he was in Himachal then as the BJP’s minder for the state.