Modi, Rahul spar at Hoshangabad

Separated by 40 km, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi hit out at each other while addressing election rallies in the Hoshangabad parliamentary constituency on Wednesday evening. (PTI File Photo)

Separated by 40 km, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi hit out at each other while addressing election rallies in the Hoshangabad parliamentary constituency on Wednesday evening.

While Rahul Gandhi kept on with the ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ refrain, the Prime Minister reiterated how the surgical strike at Balakot instilled mortal fear among Pak-based terrorists.

Rahul Gandhi’s speech mainly focussed on the benefits of his pet scheme, Nyay, which he claimed would provide Rs 72,000 to 20 crore people living in poverty in the country.

Modi, on the other hand, set up another straw man during the course of his speech, by invoking Muslim evangelist Zakir Naik, whose TV show has been banned by Sri Lanka after the serial bomb blasts in the country.

“Do you know who is Zakir Naik?” Modi asked the audience at Itarsi town and went on to say “he is the man whom Digvijay Singh used to carry on his shoulder and dance.”

In his 40-minute speech, Modi sought to portray the Congress as a well-wisher of anti-national elements and painted a picture of himself as the destroyer of Pak-based terrorists.

The Prime Minister also accused the Congress of supporting people who want a separate Prime Minister for Jammu and Kashmir.

He also mentioned the recent Income Tax raids of two close aides of MP chief minister Kamal Nath and alleged that the ill-gotten money recovered in the operation was meant to burnish the image of the "Namdar" ( Rahul Gandhi).

The Congress has destroyed Madhya Pradesh in the four months that it has been in power in the state, he added.  

Rahul, in his speech at Piparia, hit out at Modi, saying he has nothing much to speak, so he has started reading his speeches through a teleprompter. 

Tag team contest 

The Hoshangabad seat is witnessing a keen contest between sitting BJP MP Rao Udai Pratap Singh and Congress’s Shailendra Diwan.

In 2009, Udai Pratap had won the seat on a Congress ticket but later he switched to the BJP. His Congress opponent Shailendra Diwan is a candidate selected by Kamal Nath.

Since both the contestants in the seat are considered light weight and have little to speak for themselves, they are banking on their respective party’s main themes - a focus on nationalism versus justice for the poor and the farmer.

While the Congress is grappling with its candidate’s limited reach in areas beyond Hoshangabad town, the BJP is facing the prospect of a sabotage due to internal squabbles against the party candidate.        

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