State bringing back Art 370 in manifesto: Modi to Oppn

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting ahead of Maharashtra Assembly election, at Sakoli village of Bhandara. (PTI photo)

Stepping up attack on the Congress and NCP over abrogation of Article 370, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dared them to declare in their manifesto that they will bring back the provisions which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing his first rally ahead of the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly polls, Modi said Jammu and Kashmir was "not just a parcel of land, but crown of India", and assured it will not take more than four months to normalise the kind of situation that prevailed there for 40 years.

He accused the opposition parties of politicising the issue of Article 370 and charged them with "speaking on the same lines as that of the neighbouring country".

The prime minister lavished praise on the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government for its five-year performance, which he said, was "corruption-free" and inspired confidence among all, including farmers and industries.

Attacking the Congress and NCP, Modi said it was "unfortunate" that they were "politicising" the "unprecedented" decision of scrapping of Article 370.

Their leaders thought exactly opposite of what the entire nation feels about Jammu and Kashmir, he said.

"You look at the statements made by Congress, NCP of late...They seem to be speaking one lines of the neighbouring country," Modi said, without naming the leaders as he apparently referred to Pakistan.

Accusing the opposition leaders of shedding crocodile tears on the issue of Article 370, he said, "I challenge them, if they have guts, declare in their manifesto for state election and future polls too, that they will bring back Article 370 and 35A, which the BJP, the Modi government scrapped...that they will change the August 5 decision."

"Stop shedding these crocodile tears," Modi told the opposition parties.

Wondering whether bringing back Article 370 will be acceptable to people, he said the opposition parties will have no future if they were to do so.

Hailing the move, Modi said earlier it was "unthinkable" that such a decision (of abrogating the Article) could be taken, and noted that only separatism and terrorism spread in Jammu and Kashmir over the years.

The scope for development of the poor, women, Dalits and the exploited sections was slim, he pointed out.

Members of the Valmiki community in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were even deprived of their human rights, he said.

"Today, I can say bowing before Bhagwan Valmiki that I have the fortune of embracing those brothers," he added.

Modi said there was "no difference" between what the BJP-led government preached and practised.

He also hit out at the opposition over the issue of banning triple talaq, alleging they tried to see Muslim sisters did not get justice.

"But, I kept the promise made to Muslim mothers and sisters," he said, and also challenged the opposition "to bring back the practice of triple talaq".

Taking a dig at the opposition, Modi, without naming any party, said the "tired allies" can extend each other support, but cannot fulfil the dreams of Maharashtra and aspirations of its youth.

Notably, senior Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde recently remarked that both his party and the NCP are "tired".

Without naming NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Modi also referred to a video clip featuring the veteran leader and alleged that he elbowed away a party worker as he was being garlanded at a poll rally in Akola.

In the video clip, which went viral on social media recently, Pawar was purportedly seen being honoured with a big garland by NCP workers. At the same time, a party worker tried to get into the garland and was purportedly nudged by Pawar.

"I don't know whether the clip is genuine or not... such a big leader whose photos appeared in newspapers all these years, who was seen on TV, but he has such a small heart that he elbowed the young man (the worker) as he tried to get inside (the garland)," Modi said.

Modi "thanked" people for reposing their faith in the BJP-led NDA government, saying their votes for an "able and strong New India" in the Lok Sabha elections will help the country attain the place it deserves in the world.

"Because of this mandate, India's voice is being heard by each of the world's strong force...The world is seeing a reinvigorated New India. This not because of Modi, but because of your one vote. Only my 130 crore countrymen are behind it," Modi said.

Praising the Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government, the prime minister said it ensured communal harmony in the state over the last five years and managed to inspire confidence among farmers and industries.

Modi said he has come to Maharashtra to seek people's support for re-electing Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister for a second term.

He also listed several works and initiatives launched by the BJP-led central and Maharashtra governments.

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