Modi mocks Rahul over Raebareli candidature, says Congress declares ‘vote jihad’ against him

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting in support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Bardhaman Durgapur seat Dilip Ghosh for the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections, in Bardhaman on 3 May, 2024ANI

Invoking his earlier statement that Rahul Gandhi might have to seek another seat to contest after the casting of votes in Kerala’s Wayanad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday tore into the former over his candidature from his mother’s old seat, Raebareli, saying he bolted from the seat down South as he did in Amethi in 2019.

Addressing a mega rally in the Purba Bardhaman district on Friday, PM Modi said, “There’s no need for an opinion poll or exit poll...I said this much earlier. I predicted on the floor of Parliament two months ago that their (Congress’) biggest leader (Sonia Gandhi) would stand down from contesting these elections. And just as I had foreseen, she (resigned as the Raebareli MP and) took a seat in the Rajya Sabha from Jaipur.”

“I also told you earlier that the Shehzaada would start looking for another safe seat for himself, fearing defeat in Wayanad. He was so afraid after losing Amethi in 2019 that he bolted all the way down South, to Wayanad. Now, he has escaped to Raebareli. These people often go around telling people, ‘don’t be afraid’. It’s now my turn to say the same to them -- ‘don’t be afraid! don’t flee!’,” he added.

In an earlier campaign rally, PM Modi claimed Rahul would have to ‘run away’ from Wayanad “like he did in Amethi.”

Reiterating his ‘three challenges’ for the Congress and the combined Opposition, PM Modi said, “I challenge the Congress and its INDI allies to give a written statement that they will not amend the Constitution based on religion, that they will not take away the reservations of SCs, STs and OBCs and give it to a certain community, that in states where they are in power, they will not take away reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs and give it to people on the basis of faith. It’s been 10 days since I threw these challenges at them and still haven’t responded. They want to punish you but as long as I am alive, I wouldn’t let that happen.”

Claiming the Opposition bloc would ‘do anything’ to advance its ‘vote bank’ politics, PM Modi, invoking the Congress’ alleged promise of a wealth survey and redistribution, added, “Be it the TMC, Congress or Left, the INDI alliance will go to any lengths to appease and curry electoral favour with their vote bank. Your assets, be it jewellery or anything that you own, will be put under X-ray. They would even take away a share of your income or wealth and give it to people who are their vote bank. Will you allow this? Will you let your mangalsutras be snatched away? Their sole agenda is to tamper with the basic structure of our Constitution and the ideas on which it was founded. Our Constitution does not provide for reservations on grounds of religion. However, the Congress wants to give reservations on religion. They will take away the rights of the SCs, STs and OBCs and give it to their vote bank.”

“Be it the Dalits, Adivasis or the OBC, they want to punish our backward sections by taking away their constitutional safeguards. The only reason why they want to punish these sections is because they stood with Modi and voted for him. They have already done this in (Congress-ruled) Karnataka (taking away a share of quotas from the OBCs and backward sections and giving it to a certain community) and the TMC is silent on this,” PM Modi said.

Claiming that the Congress was calling for a ‘vote jihad’ while the ruling Trinamool Congress in Bengal was indulging in divisive politics, he added, “The TMC is indulging in divisive politics while the Congress has given a call for ‘vote jihad’. These vote-hungry people have already seen their boats rocked in the first two phases of polling and now they have come up with a new game. They have openly declared a vote jihad against Modi. The people of our country know very well what jihad is. In our country, this game of vote jihad had been going on behind the scenes for decades. However, such is their desperation now that it has all come out in the open. This is why the Congress royals, the TMC family and the Left are silent on this call for vote jihad. This means that every single member of the INDI alliance is in on this vote jihad,” he said.

“A TMC MLA said yesterday that they will throw the Hindus into Bhagirathi (river). What kind of politics is this? Why have Hindus become second-class citizens in Bengal? In Sandeshkhali, our Dalit sisters faced atrocities but TMC tried to shield the accused Sheikh Shahjahan. The whole country was shaken to the core and there was an outcry for action but the TMC kept protecting the culprit. Was it just because the culprit’s name was Shahjahan Sheikh?” Prime Minister Modi questioned.

Adding that the Opposition has no ‘vision for development’, he said the Opposition only knows how to divide people to protect their vote bank.

“TMC, Leftists and the Congress are threatening me. But let them know that I am not scared. The more you hurl abuses at me, the more I will work for the people. The Opposition does not have a vision for development of Bharat. They only know how to divide the society to protect their vote bank,” PM Modi said in an unsparing takedown of the Opposition.