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Modi trains guns on 'one family'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being welcomed by Madhya Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel on his arrival at Bhopal airport on Saturday. (PTI)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday praised Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee as a great son of India and accused the Congress of deliberately downplaying the contributions of leaders like him to glorify "one family".

"It has been a misfortune for our country that in order to glorify one family the contributions of many other leaders were deliberately undermined and efforts made to forget them," Modi told a rally in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh after inaugurating the Mohanpura dam in Rajgarh district.

The government event was timed to coincide with Mookerjee's death anniversary, which the BJP observes as "martyrdom day".

Mookerjee, who had in 1953 launched a movement against Article 370 and the entry restrictions into Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested on Jammu's periphery and lodged in a Srinagar safe house. He died a few days later, reportedly after a heart attack.

Saturday's event virtually saw the launch of the BJP poll campaign in Madhya Pradesh, which votes towards the end of this year along with two other BJP-ruled states, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Modi addressed another rally in Indore. BJP president Amit Shah too spoke at a rally in Jammu, his first after the BJP pulled down the Mehbooba Mufti government, to mark "martyrdom day".

Modi said Mookerjee's vision still inspired people and that, as industry and supplies minister, he had formulated the country's first industrial policy.

He said his government was working on the Jana Sangh founder's vision in the fields of education, women's empowerment and the use of atomic energy.

At Rajgarh, the Prime Minister accused the Opposition of spreading lies about his government and claimed the turnout at the rally was proof of the people's trust in his government's policies.

He said those claiming his government was losing popularity were far removed from the ground realities.

Modi described how his government had provided cooking gas and electricity connections to the poor and helped them open bank accounts under the Jan Dhan Yojana. He accused previous governments of failing to improve the lives of the poor.

"No one stopped these previous governments from doing what the government is doing today. The party that ruled the country for a long time did not have trust in people and their strengths," he said.

He claimed his government had removed the atmosphere of despondency that was prevailing in the country.

Modi lauded chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for developing Madhya Pradesh and promised that the "double engine" of BJP rule at the Centre and in the state would ensure all-round development.

Chouhan, seen as Modi's rival for the Prime Minister's job ahead of the 2014 general election, termed Modi "the most powerful leader in the world and God's gift to the nation".

Modi endorsed him in return, scotching any speculation about a change of leadership in the state ahead of the polls.

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