Modi fires potshot at Cong from War Memorial

Last Updated 25 February 2019, 20:06 IST

A solemn ceremony to dedicate the National War Memorial to India’s fallen heroes triggered a political row on Monday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing the Congress of putting the interest of Gandhi family ahead of national interest, and the latter hitting back saying “Modi has destroyed the solemness and dignity of the occasion”.


“From Bofors to the chopper (Agusta VVIP helicpoter) deal, all investigations are pointing to one family, which says a lot. Now these people are trying hard to ensure that Rafale fighter aircraft don’t arrive in India,” Modi said at a rally of ex-servicemen at the National Stadium minutes before inaugurating the memorial.

The reference is to the contentious Rs 59,000-crore deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

The Congress and other critics of Modi blamed the BJP-led government for entering into a deal with the underlying purpose of benefiting industrialist Anil Ambani.

“The National War Memorial is a symbol of sacrifice by soldiers. Don’t turn into a political battle ground. Stop the political mudslinging on the land of the braves. You have already lowered the dignity of your office,” said Randeep Surjewala, Congress chief spokesperson.

Days before the announcement of dates for the LS elections, Modi also reminded the vast community of ex-servicemen that their salaries and pension received a substantial boost in the five years of BJP rule.

Pointing out the Congress role towards soldier’s welfare vis-a-vis that of BJP, Modi said, “Because of the One Rank One Pension scheme that we implemented, pensions of the veterans increased by 40%. The salary of soldiers also increased by 55% from the 2014 level. We spent Rs 35,000 crore on OROP while the previous (UPA) government allocated Rs 500 crore.”

Close to 25 lakh families, each having 2-4 members on an average, benefited from the OROP that was announced by the Modi government in 2015. At the time of announcement, the Defence Ministry claimed that OROP rates will be reviewed after five years. Modi also charged the Congress-led UPA government for not concluding a critical deal to buy 1.84 lakh bullet proof jackets in five years, making the soldiers vulnerable.

“They committed the sin of depriving the soldiers from having a safety cover while facing the bullet. It’s a criminal negligence. We purchased 2.3 lakh bullet proof jackets,” he said.

With days to go before the country goes on election-mode, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman appealed to the ex-servicemen to support the BJP-led government.

“We need your trust. Trust the prime minister. Welfare of the veterans is always our priority,” she said.

Later, the prime minister lit the eternal flame at the National War Memorial – the newly constructed monument near the iconic India Gate.

(Published 25 February 2019, 19:24 IST)

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