Modi accuses Pakistan of interfering in Gujarat polls

Gandhinagar – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Sunday, said a Pakistani Army official has supported Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel as the Gujarat chief minister. “Does Pakistan want to make Ahmed Patel Gujarat CM?” he asked.

Addressing election meetings at Palanpur, Banaskantha district, that borders Pakistan, and then at Sanand in Ahmedabad district, Modi referred to some media reports stating that former Pakistani Army’s director-general Sardar Arshad Rafique had appealed to make Patel as Gujarat CM.

Modi said that a three-hour-long meeting was held at former diplomat Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence in which “former Indian Vice-President (Hamid) Ansari Saheb, ex-PM Dr Manmohan Singh, the Pakistani high commissioner to India and an ex-Pakistani foreign minister were present. The next day, Aiyar called me neech aadmi.”

Asking the Congress to explain what “transpired at the secret meeting”, the Indian PM said there could be something fishy about it – daal mein kaala hai ya nahin? “Why did you hold a closed-door meeting just before Gujarat polls? If it was so important, why did not you invite Indian officials also to attend it, or reported it back to the Government of India. You must explain it.”

He said Arshad Rafique supporting Ahmed Patel as Gujarat chief minister is a ‘matter of concern’. “It’s a matter of India’s sovereignty and self-respect.”

“(On one side) Pakistan Army’s former director general is interfering in Gujarat’s election, on the other side, Pakistan’s people are holding a meeting at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house,” he alleged.

“And, after that meeting, people of Gujarat, backward communities, poor people and Modi were insulted. Don’t you think such events raise doubts?” Modi asked. He said the Congress should inform the people of the country what exactly it was up to.

Last week, posters had mysteriously appeared in Surat, appealing the people to make Ahmed Patel the state’s Wazir-e-Alam, which were later removed. The posters had the pictures of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel. Patel had denied having ever been interested in Gujarat chief ministership. Interestingly, the Urdu word Wazir-e-Ala (not Wazir-a-Alam) is used for a chief minister; the word Wazir-a-Azam is translated as the prime minister.

Also, unclaimed posters emerged late on Saturday on Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway in Ahmedabad, near the Gujarat BJP’s media centre, condemning J&K activist Salman Nizami with a slogan “Afzal ka yaar, Desh ka Gaddar” (A friend of Afzal (Guru) is a traitor of the country).

After Modi raked up the issue that the J&K “separatist” Salman Nizami, an alleged supporter of hanged militant Afzal Guru and critic of Indian army, was campaigning for the Congress in Gujarat, party spokesman Rajeev Shukla, had, on Saturday, denied that the activist was a Congressman.

After Palanpur, Modi travelled to Sanand, where he continued to slam the Congress.

“Could anyone have imagined that a small village like Sanand would reach such great levels of development?” Modi asked at the beginning of his speech. Modi said that Congress governments of the past only developed the Ankleshwar-Vapi “golden corridor”. “We also developed Sanand, Viramgam and other areas too. This area is now a hub of automobile industry, ” Modi said while adding that companies like Tata Nano. Maruti Suzuki, Ford, Bharat Forge now have their factories in the region.

Slamming Congress over corruption and caste politics, Modi said, “Those who had made corruption their habit cannot help the country. I took the state to new economic height but these Congress leaders used caste politics to break Gujarat,” the Indian prime minister said.

Hard selling his development model, Modi said, “We were known for being entrepreneurs and businessmen but there was no manufacturing industries here. After we came to power, we are now a manufacturing hub. We are also a hub of engineering services.”

“Gujarat was nowhere in agriculture as most of the time there were droughts. Before I came to power, there was an agricultural growth rate of one percent. We took it to at least 10 percent each year. Through Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sampada Yojna (PMKSY), we helped Gujarati farmers to gain more money by selling byproducts,” Modi said.

Urging Congress set its own house in order before attacking him, Modi remarked that Congress has been wiped out of most of the state. “Even if you use a microscope… you cannot see them,” he remarked.

At a rally in Panchamahal’s Kalol, Modi said that development is the only agenda for his party, while blaming Congress for indulging in “divide and rule” politics. “Congress is back to their old tricks. A generational shift has not brought in a new political culture for the party,” Modi said.

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