PALAKKAD/CHENNAI: In a veiled attack on Sonia Gandhi over the controversial AgustaWestland deal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today raked up her Italian roots and indicated that the guilty, howsoever big they are, would be punished.
Breaking his silence on a judgment by an Italian court in Milan that “corruption” took place for supply of VVIP choppers to India by the Anglo-Italian firm, Modi dubbed the deal a “chori” (theft).
The Prime Minister chose the AgustaWestland deal and the solar scam in Kerala to corner arch rival Congress in election rallies in Tamil Nadu and Kerala even as he said he was being attacked since he has “tightened the screws” on corruption.
Modi’s veiled attack against Sonia came hours after a combative Congress President in New Delhi accused his government of “murdering” democracy and unleashing a campaign of “baseless allegations” against the opposition in the aftermath of the court verdict.
Without naming Congress or any leader of the party which has launched a counter attack on his government for dragging Sonia’s name, he asked “if the court in Italy has said that people from the last government in India have eaten money, why then are you troubling us here?”
“Does anyone of your relatives live in Italy? Does any of my relatives live in Italy…. I have not seen Italy. I have not been to Italy. Nor have I met anyone in Italy. If Italians have accused them what should we do?” Modi said.
“Those involved in helicopter chori, should they be punished or not? Should legal action be taken against them or not. Howsoever big they are, should action be taken against them or not? I want to know from the people of Tamil Nadu,” he said in identical remarks at election rallies at Hosur and Chennai in Tamil Nadu.
Targeting Congress on corruption, he referred to alleged irregularities in 2G spectrum allocation and Coal auction.
Modi said his government had taken so many steps to curb corruption that “the corrupt are feeling nervous.”
“For those who used to loot it is becoming difficult for them to survive. So whenever there are attacks against Modi, it means that Modi has tightened the screws,” he said.
In Kerala, Modi tore into the ruling Congress-led UDF dispensation, saying there seemed to be “no government” in the state… Earlier, addressing a rally in the other poll-bound southern state of Kerala, Modi targeted Congress government on solar scam and the brutal rape and murder of a Dalit woman.
“I am afraid to use the word solar in Kerala as it would create a ‘big dhamaka’ (explosion),” he said referring to the solar scam which has rocked UDF government with charges being made even against Chief Minister Ommen Chandy.
Referring to the solar initiative launched in his Varanasi constituency, which he said resulted in a profit of Rs 500 a day for fishermen, Modi said he had thought about replicating it in Kerala also.”But I was scared. I felt, if I go to Kerala and talk of solar, there will be ‘big dhamaka’,” Modi said.
“See the change from government to government. In Varanasi, the solar-powered boats are powering the lives of fishermen, but in Kerala the government is run by solar,” Modi said, taking a dig at Chandy.
Modi also criticized the state government’s “failure” to rise to the occasion while handling the rape case.
“A Dalit sister was raped and killed. We don’t see a government anywhere,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister said though the people of Kerala are well educated and knowledgeable, they failed to understand that they had been ‘looted’ in the past 60 years by the UDF and CPI(M)-led LDF governments which ruled the state alternately.
“It is an adjustment rule by the two fronts. Five year Congress-led UDF rules, then next five years CPI (M) headed LDF rules…They decide among themselves we will loot for five years, then you loot for five years,” he charged.
“Those who ruled God’s own country for the last 60 years have only destroyed it…There seems to be a scientific arrangement to ruin Kerala. Both Congress and Left have mutually decided to loot turn by turn,” he said.
Addressing election rallies in Tamil Nadu, he said its people had ‘tolerated’ family rule, corruption and bad governance and that the ‘need of the hour’ was to pull the state out of its difficulties.
“Tamil Nadu has to decide now whether you need a government which is ready to die for you or the one which makes you suffer,” he said.
For this, people have to elect BJP candidates who will ensure that all of Central schemes reached the last citizen in the state and ensure development.
He recalled his various pro-Tamil efforts, including visiting Sri Lankan Tamils in Jaffna, and saving five Tamil Nadu fishermen from the gallows in Sri Lanka.
The Prime Minister also referred to the Centre lending a helping hand to the state in the December 2015 deluge and said while he had sent the armed forces for rescue, he himself came down here later to take stock of the situation.
Modi, who billed development as the “sole medicine” for all problems, said he had removed 1,100 legislations that were affecting the common man, even as he described India as a ‘shining star’ in the otherwise slowing global economy.
The World Bank, IMF and other credit agencies had lauded India for being the ‘shining star’, Modi said, adding this was possible because of carefully drafted economic reforms.
He said various schemes like Startup India, Standup India and Mudra Bank were aimed at providing employment to the over 65 per cent of Indian population under the age of 35 years and add to the country’s ‘economic might.
There were no corruption charges against his two-year-old NDA government and people were being given accounts of its performance, Modi said.–PTI