Zee Media Bureau
Rewari: In his first rally as the BJP`s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 General Elections, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Sunday, lauded the armed forces for their sacrifice and slammed the government at Centre for its foreign policies.
Modi spoke on national security and matters concerning ex-servicemen, including challenges faced by them in seeking post-retirement employment.
He also attacked the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for its handling of security issues such as incursions by China, repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan and instances of attack on Indian soldiers.
In his 65-minute speech to former soldiers and party supporters in this south Haryana town, 90 km from Delhi, Modi sought to project a national outlook, as he accused the United Progressive Alliance government of vote bank politics and called upon ex-servicemen not to forgive it.
The BJP`s prime ministerial candidate told Pakistan to shun its anti-India attitude and stop backing terrorism against India.
"The rulers in Pakistan should resolve that they will not allow terrorists to (operate) in Pakistan for 10 years, will not protect terrorists, will not allow its soil to be the breeding ground for terrorists. I can say with authority that if this happens, Pakistan will see the progress that it has not seen in the last 60 years (since it got independence)," he said.
Modi said Pakistan had "converted India into a war zone through its war mindset and support for terrorism."
"Earlier, the war used to take place on the border. But when you (Pakistan) could not defeat the Indian Army, you started going for killing innocent citizens."
"Killing innocents through cross border terrorism is neither going to help Pakistan nor India."
Amid cheers, Modi went on: "You cannot progress with anti-India tirade. You cannot progress on this basis... For you own interests and for the youth of your country, you should rethink the wrong path you have chosen in the last 60 years and step back."
"I want to tell the rulers whether it is of Bangladesh, India or Pakistan: if we have to fight, we should fight against poverty, illiteracy and other ills."
Thousands of people, including former soldiers, turned up for Modi`s first public rally as the Bharatiya Janata Party`s prime ministerial candidate.
He insisted that ex-serviceman should be brought in the mainstream to change society. Underlining the need to be self-reliant, Modi said the country should dream of exporting not importing weapons.
He also advised politicians to take inspiration of secularism from the Indian Army.
Modi attacked the UPA over a survey to know religion of the personnel "through the Sachar commission" and complimented the forces for not accepting the suggestion.
Hitting out at the UPA over its handling of the LoC killings, Modi said: "If you don’t want to shed tears for our dead then don’t but at least don’t mock them".
Adding that Army is not the priority for our leaders, Modi noted that the government seems to think that the Army people have signed up to be killed.
“Even China has started challenging us on our borders. This is not because our soldiers are weak, but because of problems in Delhi. We need to change the government at Delhi. We need a patriotic government at Delhi to ensure the safety of our soldiers. More soldiers have died to terrorists and Maoists in India.”
The Gujarat CM also slammed the United Nations. “The nature of war has changed. World is worried by proxy war and the name of that war is terrorism, Maoism.”
Seeking to reach out to the ex-servicemen, Modi asked the UPA government to bring out a white paper on the long-standing demand of former soldiers for "one rank, one pension".
He said if the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government returned to power in 2004, the issue would have been sorted out.
Modi, dressed in a white kurta-pyjama, underlined the significance of "more brilliant youth in the armed forces". The government must ensure this, added Modi.
He also asked the villagers to send him a piece of iron for `iron man` Sardar Patel`s Statue of Unity in Gujarat.
The Gujarat CM recalled how he used to serve tea and snacks to people from the armed forces when he was a child. His dream to join the Army was shattered when his father asked him to study in the village because of lack of money to send him to join Sainak school.
"As a young boy, I used to think that one could serve nation only by joining the forces," added Modi.
He also hailed the Indian Army`s role during Bhuj earthquake, when the soldiers arrived as saviours.
Modi said that he was happier being among ex-servicemen than at the time of his anointment as BJP`s PM candidate.
Modi flew to Rewari, not a traditional BJP support base, in a helicopter from Delhi.
He also congratulated defence scientists for successfully test-firing Agni V missile earlier in the day.
After `Red Fort` stage in Chhattisgarh, Modi addressed the rally with a huge photograph of Indian Parliament in the background.
Modi got a rousing welcome as he arrived here. Thousands gathered for the ex-servicemen rally clapped and waved as the Gujarat Chief Minister took to the dais. An enthused Modi responded: "No camera can capture this moment. No eye can capture it fully. This is a call for change from this land of Haryana. This is a call to the sultanate of Delhi."
`Oust those who make weak security policies`
Also on the dais was former Army chief VK Singh along with a number of retired senior military officers.
There was a speculation that VK Singh may join BJP at the rally.
While addressing ex-servicemen, General VK Singh hailed the country`s soldiers as braver and more sensitive than of any other country in the world.
Singh urged voters to oust rulers who he said were responsible for making weak national and security policies.
He further asked the crowd at BJP rally to show respect to soldiers who died fighting Chinese invaders.
The soldiers need to be respected. There is no national memorial for our martyrs, only the ones made by the British, noted Gen (retd) Singh.
"Our armed forces are like an insurance policy and if the insurance policy is weak, the nation will become weak."
`Modi will boost morale of armed forces`
Ahead of Modi`s arrival, ace shooter and former Olympic silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who recently joined the BJP, addressed the rally and showered praise upon the Gujarat CM.
`If Modi gets elected and Pakistan gives Kashmir the evil eye, then Kashmir will exist but Pakistan won`t,` said Rathore. He also said that Modi will boost the morale of the armed forces.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had on Friday anointed Modi as its prime ministerial candidate for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
BJP spokesperson Captain Abhimanyu, convenor of the rally, said it is a great honour for people that Narendra Modiji after being nominated as PM candidate is coming to address rally in Rewari.
People of Haryana want to walk with him and are ready to hear the slogan of `Chalo Dilli` with him, said Captain Abhimanyu.
(With Agency inputs)