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Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar at election rallies in Sangli and Kolhapur, considered party strongholds. Mr. Modi said, “You [Mr. Pawar] talk about Chhatrapati Shivaji. But who linked Mumbai airport with the name of Shivaji? It was Atalji’s [former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s] government. Why didn’t you ever think of it?”
The opposition parties have accused the BJP of trying to hijack the image of the Maratha warrior and an icon of Maharashtra for political gains. In a bid to silence the critics, Mr. Modi asked them to “stop challenging his ‘Shiv bhakti.’” “It is in our blood,” he said at Tasgaon in Sangli.
Stepping up his attack on Mr. Pawar, Mr. Modi said he had built a bigger statue of Shivaji in Surat (Gujarat) than what the NCP chief built in his home turf of Baramati.
Mr. Modi taunted Mr. Pawar for failing to address the water woes of the State, though he held the portfolio of Agriculture Minister.
“I know there is no possibility that you will imbibe the qualities of Shivaji. But as a CM or Agriculture Minister, you could have at least taken inspiration from Shivaji and provided water facilities to the people,” Mr. Modi said.
Mr. Modi maintained that alliance governments were at the heart of the State’s troubles. He appealed to voters to give his party a full mandate to ensure development.
“There is nobody to take responsibility [in an alliance]. The BJP will take responsibility. You give a full majority government, we will give you development and an account of our work. We won’t run away like the Congress,” he said.
Mr. Modi addressed the problems of the sugar industry, an important issue in the region. The politics of the NCP is closely linked to the sugar cooperatives. Under the Congress-NCP rule, sugar mills had turned into “workshops of politics,” while the farmers were left to die, Mr. Modi said.
Mr. Modi blamed the previous Congress governments, of which Mr. Pawar was a part, for stalling the Narmada project, which would provide “free electricity worth Rs. 4,000 crore to Maharashtra each year.”
Addressing the rally in Kolhapur, Mr. Modi attacked the Congress saying the party had discarded Mahatma Gandhi and the only “Gandhiji” they liked was the one embossed on currency notes.
From: The Hindu