Congress playing ‘game of secularism’, says Modi (Intro Roundup)

Ghaziabad/Kurukshetra/Gurgaon, April 3: BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Thursday targeted Sonia Gandhi over her meeting with the Jama Masjid’s Shahi Imam, saying the Congress’s “game of secularism” was over and urged the Election Commission to take action in the matter.

The Gujarat chief minister, who addressed public meetings in Delhi’s satellite cities of Ghaziabad and Gurgaon, and Kurukshetra in Haryana as part of his Bharat Vijay rallies, also made indirect attacks over the land controversies surrounding COngress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra.

“Their game of secularism is over. So Congress leaders are taking the route of communalism to get votes,” Modi said in an apparent reference to Gandhi’s meeting with Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam.

Gandhi had reportedly asked Bukhari to ensure that “secular” votes do not split in the Lok Sabha election.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader expressed surprise that the poll panel has not taken notice of the incident despite news channels running the Sonia-Imam meet story since Wednesday.

“Why has the Election Commission not issued any suo motu notice?” Modi asked in Ghaziabad.

He said the BJP stood for unity and development whereas the Congress believed in “divide and rule”.

“For us, secularism means every community is our own. For the Congress, secularism is just an election plank.”"The Congress refutes my talk on development by raking in secularism. They know they are going to lose,” Modi said.

The BJP has fielded former Indian Army chief, General V.K. Singh, in Ghaziabad.

Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath Thursday told reporters in Jammu that the poll panel will take cognizance if it receives a complaint concerning Gandhi’s meeting with Bukhari.

Commerce Minister Anand Sharma rejected Modi’s accusations against Sonia Gandhi, and told reporters in the capital that politicians were free to meet religious leaders in a diverse country like India.

At his rally in Gurgaon, Modi remembered Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw on his birth centenary Thursday, and said he would have been pained to see India’s condition.

“If he (Manekshaw) were alive today to see what the government in Delhi is doing, he would have been pained,” Modi said.

“This government, steeped in vote-bank politics, wanted a census in the armed forces on the basis of religion. They have divided the people of India, now they want to divide the armed forces.

“When I talk about development, changing India’s fortunes, security for women, they have no answers… When I ask them about employment, security, they divert the discussion to secularism,” he said.

Modi also made an indirect attack on Vadra.

“Is there any magician who does not have penny but in three months gets crores in his bank account? People here want to know who is the person who sold farmers’ land and made crores,” Modi said.

In Kurukshetra, the historic land of the ‘Mahabharata’, the BJP leader emphasised the need to develop tourism in the area.

He urged the people to defeat the Congress.

“You have given 60 years to these people (Congress). You can give me at least 60 months and see. You can do at least this for me,” Modi said.

He again took a dig at Vadra, who is the brother-in-law of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.

“I had said this country today needs a sentinel. But Shehzade (Rahul Gandhi) said the country does not need one sentinel, it needs more than one billion sentinels. I ask him if your brother-in-law will also be a sentinel?” Modi asked.