Monday, 30th October 2017

E- paper

PM feels chowkidar pain

Modi accused 'some people' of vilifying watchmen

  • Published 21.03.19, 2:57 AM
  • Updated 21.03.19, 2:57 AM
  • 2 mins read
BJP workers in New Delhi participate in the Main Bhi Chowkidar campaign on Wednesday Picture by Prem Singh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday accused “some people” of vilifying watchmen through their “chowkidar chor hai” campaign and “apologised” to people from the profession.

Modi, who sought to apportion to himself the responsibility of channelling watchmen’s sense of “hurt” and turn Rahul Gandhi’s attack on him into an opportunity of whipping up pre-poll sympathy, was responding to a private security guard who told him during an interaction that the “chowkidar chor hai” campaign had “pained” sentinels.

Renu from Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh, who was one of “25 lakh” chowkidars from across the country with whom Modi interacted through tele-conference, told the Prime Minister: “I hail from a very poor family. After years of hard work, a security guard earns respect. But because of politics we have been called ‘chor’ (thief). This pains us. Are the armed forces who guard our borders also thieves?”

The content of the question, as also queries from guards in Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, matched the way the BJP wants the “chowkidar” narrative to be pitched keeping in mind the April-May Lok Sabha polls.

Replying to Renu, Modi said: “I apologise to all chowkidars that some people, for their own interests, have been abusing chowkidars and saying ‘chowkidar chor hai’, raising questions about the integrity of the chowkidars of the nation.”

The slogan “chowkidar chor hai” has been coined by Rahul and the Congress president has used it to relentlessly target Modi over the Rafale deal. However, Rahul has categorically stated that his reference is specifically to the Prime Minister and apologised to watchmen who may have felt hurt though it was never his intention. The Congress, too, has run a social media campaign mentioning that the target was only Modi.

Modi told the uniformed private guards on Wednesday, seeking to identify himself with watchmen: “The way ‘chowkidar chor hai’ has been repeatedly said to insult you, it has hurt you. No matter how much they insult us calling us chor, we don’t have to be afraid and we should embrace such insults like ornaments.”

The Prime Minister said chowkidars had become synonymous with “patriotism and integrity”.

“They called chowkidars chor. They put a question mark on all chowkidars,” Modi added.

He highlighted how he too had been insulted by “naamdars”, which means famed people and often used by Modi to refer to Rahul, and added that he had chosen to be a “kaamdar” (one who works) and do his duty to the nation.