Bhopal: In a veiled attack on the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said some people were hell-bent on sullying his image in the global arena.
He further said they have even given a "supari" (contract) for this purpose, colluding with certain people sitting in India and also outside the country.
Modi's remarks come amid a slugfest between the Congress and the BJP over Rahul Gandhi's "democracy under brutal attack in India" comments in the UK, and Germany taking note of Rahul's disqualification from Lok Sabha.
The BJP has accused the Congress of "inviting foreign powers" for interfering in India's internal matters.
The prime minister was addressing a gathering at Rani Kamalapati railway station after flagging off the semi-high-speed Bhopal-Delhi Vande Bharat Express train.
"There are some people in our country who have been determined since 2014, spoken publicly and declared their resolve that they will tarnish Modi's image. For this, they have given 'supari' (contract) to various people.
"Some people are sitting inside the country to support these people and some are doing their work sitting outside the country. These people have been continuously trying to spoil and dent Modi's image," he said.
But India's poor, the middle class, tribals, Dalits, backward classes and every Indian have become the security cover of Modi, which made these people furious forcing them to adopt new tricks, the prime minister said.
Modi said such people have taken a pledge that "Modi Teri Kabar Khudegi".
Amid their conspiracies, every countryman has to pay attention to the development of the country and pay attention to building the nation, he said.
Slamming Congress without taking its name, Modi said previous governments were busy with vote bank appeasement whereas his government is busy satisfying people.
"They (the previous governments) considered one family (a reference to the Gandhis) as the first family of the country. They ignored the poor and middle class, and the Railway is a living example of this (ignorance)," he said.
Modi said when he was informed about this programme (flagging off Vande Bharat express train from Bhopal), he asked why it is scheduled on April 1.
"I said Congress friends will say that Modi will make (people) April fool but the train is being run from April 1. This is a symbol of our confidence, capabilities and skills", he said.
The prime minister said the average Railway budget for Madhya Pradesh used to be Rs 600 crore before 2014 but it has now gone to more than Rs 13,000 crore.
Modi said previous governments could have easily upgraded the already existing rail network which India acquired after Independence but the development of railways was sacrificed due to vested political interests.
Even after decades of independence, the Northeastern states had not been connected to the rail network. Indian Railway is a common family transport but why it was not upgraded and modernized earlier"? he asked.
"In a way, Vande Bharat is a symbol of India's enthusiasm and excitement. It represents our skills, confidence and capabilities," he said.
PM expresses grief over Indore tragedy
The prime minister also expressed deep grief over the stepwell roof collapse tragedy in a temple in Indore which killed 36 people and injured 16 on Ram Navami.
A fresh war of words erupted between BJP and the Opposition party after senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Thursday thanked the German foreign ministry and Richard Walker, Chief International Editor of Deutsche Welle, for "taking note of how the Democracy is being compromised in India through the persecution of Rahul Gandhi".
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju shared a screenshot of Digivijaya Singh's tweet, saying, "Thank you Rahul Gandhi for inviting foreign powers for interference into India's internal matters. Remember, Indian Judiciary can't be influenced by foreign interference. India won't tolerate 'foreign influence' anymore because our Prime Minister is:- Shri @narendramodi Ji".
(With PTI inputs)