In a politically loaded speech playing to patriotic sentiments, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Monday criticised the Congress-led government’s policies on cross-border affairs and indigenous defence production.
Modi was addressing a gathering in Mumbai — his second in a month ahead of the Lok Sabha polls — at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse to celebrate the 51st anniversary of melody queen Lata Mangeshkar’s memorable song ‘Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon’, which had moved Jawaharlal Nehru to tears.
Modi demanded an able leadership that could live up to expectations of the Indian soldiers and people. “We respond to a smaller country [read Pakistan] with folded hands when the enemy behead our men. What a widow of our beheaded soldier wanted was her husband’s head, not bringing him back to life,” said Modi, recalling a cross-border incident that had strained the Indo-Pak relations and evoked nation-wide criticism of the UPA government.
In full view of decorated war heroes and families of martyrs, including of the 1962 Indo-China war after which Mangeshkar’s song eulogising the Indian solider became an all-time inspiration, Modi demanded a war memorial.
“There is no country in the world where there is not a war memorial. India has fought many wars and thousands of our soldiers have lost their lives fighting for the country, but there is no memorial to honour their sacrifice,” he said, as the crowd cheered him on. There was no mention of India Gate on Rajpath, which is the national memorial to fallen soldiers.
Modi unfolded his political agenda as his speech progressed. He said he would like the Indian youth to research and develop weaponry for the defence forces and fortify the country against increasing cyber war threats. “If we do this, our youth will be able to produce indigenous weaponry and export it. We should also encourage our industries to take up producing defence arsenal in large quantity,” he said.
Ruing the cowardly terror attacks on soldiers, the Gujarat chief minister said, “Each soldier harbours a dream of taking a bullet only in the battlefield. He suffers the most when he faces a bullet fired from behind by a terrorist in his own cantonment area or when he is travelling from one destination to other.”
Modi said it was the country’s responsibility to protect the pride of the Indian soldiers and not to think of it as a favour.