Monday, 30th October 2017

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Anti-Modi to anti-India: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday accused the Congress of "opposing the country" while opposing him, appearing to portray the allegations about his government destroying constitutional institutions as attacks on these institutions themselves.

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow
  • Published 28.05.18
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ROAD SHOW ON POLL EVE 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a 6km road show after inaugurating a stretch of the Delhi-Meerut expressway in east Delhi on Sunday.

Lucknow: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday accused the Congress of "opposing the country" while opposing him, appearing to portray the allegations about his government destroying constitutional institutions as attacks on these institutions themselves.

"They (Congress politicians) are so enraged (at having lost popular confidence) that they have started opposing the country while opposing Modi," he said while inaugurating the Eastern Peripheral Expressway at a village in Baghpat district.

"They have raised the question of trust over the Supreme Court," the Prime Minister added, apparently equating the Opposition's attempt to impeach the Chief Justice of India with an assault on the highest court of the land.

Modi's own government has been accused of trying to undermine judicial independence by sitting on many of the Supreme Court collegium's recommendations for judges' appointments and stonewalling the promotion of judges who had delivered unpalatable verdicts.

"They (the Congress) have questioned the genuineness of the Election Commission and the electronic voting machines, and the policies of the Reserve Bank," Modi said, appearing to deliver a 50-minute election speech ahead of Monday's by-elections in the nearby Kairana Parliamentary seat and Noorpur Assembly constituency.

Rashtriya Lok Dal member and Kairana candidate Tabassum Hasan, who has the support of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress, had tried to prevent Modi's rally, reminding the Election Commission that no campaigning was allowed within 48 hours of the end of polling. But the poll panel refused to entertain her complaint.

Modi on Sunday devoted as much time to opponent-bashing as to advertising his government's achievements, appearing to provide a foretaste of how the BJP campaign for the general election, due next summer, might unfold.

"The people who are questioning me are known for worshiping a family. Those who worship a family cannot worship democracy," was his defence against accusations that his government was subverting democratic traditions.

"They don't spare even a foreign guest if he praises the work done by my government," he said, without elaborating. "For them, a family is their country but for me my country is my family."

Political symbols, such as BJP flags, made their presence felt at the road show. Subsequently, Modi reached  Baghpat, 60km from Kairana where a Lok Sabha by-election is scheduled for Monday, to open the  Eastern Peripheral Expressway. The Supreme Court had said that the expressway must be opened by May 31. (PTI pictures)

Modi stuck to his habit of avoiding burning issues, such as the rising fuel prices or a farmer's death from a heatstroke on Saturday while protesting against the state government at Baraut, 20km from the venue of Sunday's rally.

Uday Veer Singh, 60, is said to have been part of a farmers' dharna against sugar mills' failure to pay their dues and the state government's decision to hike electricity rates for tube-wells.

"We have increased the minimum support price of sugarcane by 11 per cent. The sugar mills have been made to pay the dues of the farmers. We are committed to solving the problems of the sugarcane growers," Modi said.

But farmers across western Uttar Pradesh say that Rs 1,000 crore worth of dues remain unpaid - a key poll issue in Kairana that has queered the pitch for the BJP.

Although the state government has announced a compensation of Rs 12 lakh for Uday Veer's family and promised to look into the farmers' problems, the dharna is being continued "till all the promises are met".

State Congress president Raj Babbar, who has visited Uday Veer's home in village Jivana-Jivani, tweeted: "The PM says the BJP is a well-wisher of farmers. But Uday Veer died during demonstration for payment. I realised after going to his house that the government was unaware of the anger of the farmers."

Samajwadi president Akhilesh Yadav has said that Uday Veer's death has started the countdown to the BJP government's downfall.

Modi said his government was working to safeguard Dalits' interests. "We have worked for the security of Dalits and the backward classes over the past four years," he said.

"We are establishing special courts to hear cases of Dalit atrocities and are working to provide reservation to the most backward classes. But the Congress and the other political parties associated with it are creating hurdles before us."