Panipat/New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday took a swipe at the Congress over its recent black clothes protest against price rise, saying resorting to 'black magic' cannot end the opposition party's "bad days" and help it earn the trust of people again.
Dedicating to the nation a Rs 900 crore second generation ethanol plant at Panipat in Haryana, Modi also renewed his attack on the culture of freebies for votes, and said they are a spoke in India's effort to become self-reliant and a burden on taxpayers.
Without naming Congress, he said some out of frustration resorted to 'black magic' on August 5.
"On August 5, we saw how some people tried to spread 'black magic'. These people think that by wearing black clothes they can end their despondency. But they do not know that by engaging in witchcraft, black magic and superstition, they cannot earn the trust of people again," Modi said.
The Congress staged nationwide protests against rising prices on August 5 with its leaders including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi wearing black clothes in Parliament and outside.
"Some people think wearing black clothes can ward off their pessimism and negativity but they don't know that they can resort to any such tactics but can't win back people's confidence," he said.
In an apparent reference to the Congress, Modi also said that "black magic cannot end your bad days".
The Congress hit back at the prime minister over his 'kala jadu'(black magic) remark, saying while the country wants him to talk about their problems but "jumlajeevi" keeps saying just anything.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh shared a picture of Modi in black clothes and said he is making a pointless issue about black clothes.
"They could not do anything to bring black money, now they are making a pointless issue about black clothes. The country wants the prime minister to talk about their problems, but 'Jumlajeevi' keeps saying anything," Ramesh said in a tweet in Hindi.
In his speech, the prime minister also attacked certain opposition parties for engaging in politics of freebies, saying such things would only do a disservice to the nation as it hampers investment in new technology.
He said that if there is selfishness in politics, then anybody can even promise free petrol and diesel.
"Such steps will amount to depriving our children of their due and prevent the country from becoming self sufficient. Such selfish policies will put more burden on honest tax payers of the country," Modi added.
Those who promise freebies will never will able to find resources for investment in new technologies, he said. "This is not a right policy but misleading one; this is not in national interest but it is against the nation; this is not nation building but an effort to push back the country".
The prime minister further said that people who have a tendency to avoid problems by adopting shortcuts for political selfishness can never solve the problems permanently.
Those adopting short-cuts may get applause for some time, and may gain political advantage, but that does not solve the problem, he said.
Adopting a short-cut will definitely result in a short-circuit, he said, adding that instead of following short-cuts, our government is engaged in permanent solutions to the problems.
The Supreme Court had on August 3 also asked stakeholders like the Centre, Niti Aayog, Finance Commission and the RBI to brainstorm on the "serious" issue of freebies announced during elections and put forth constructive suggestions to tackle this practice, saying no political party will oppose such handouts or like to debate it in Parliament.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday also cautioned against announcement of populist measures by political parties on the eve of elections, and said the "freebie culture" has led to deteriorating financial health of many states.
However, parties like the Telangana Rashtra Samithi(TRS) and the Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) have said welfare of poorer sections of society is not a freebie and welfare measures taken by governments should continue.