Those who looted country will face action irrespective of status: PM hits out at INDIA bloc

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses during an election campaign rally ahead of Lok Sabha polls, in Meerut, Sunday, March 31, 2024. Photo: PTI

Meerut: Alleging that the opposition INDIA bloc wanted to protect the corrupt, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asserted that he will not stop his fight against corruption despite their attacks on him and those who looted the country will face action irrespective of their status.

"When Modi is fighting the battle against corruption with full strength, these people have formed the INDIA alliance. They think they will intimidate Modi, but for me, my Bharat is my family and I am taking steps to protect it from the corrupt," the prime minister said here in his first rally in Uttar Pradesh after the announcement of the Lok Sabha election schedule.

Modi's counter-offensive came as the stalwarts of the INDIA bloc parties held a 'Loktantra Bachao' (Save Democracy) rally at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi in support of AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and JMM leader Hemant Soren, arrested on graft charges, and accused the prime minister of running a "dictatorship".

The prime minister said some people are rattled because he is taking action against corruption. "Modi's mantra is 'bhrashtachar hatao' (remove corruption). They say 'bhrashtachari bachao' (save the corrupt).

"I am fighting a big battle to save my country from the corrupt. That is why they are behind bars today and not even getting bail from the Supreme Court," Modi said.

The prime minister said his government took steps in the last 10 years to ensure that the money meant for the poor is not usurped by the corrupt.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other NDA leaders during an election campaign rally ahead of Lok Sabha polls, in Meerut, Sunday, March 31, 2024. Photo: PTI

"This election is a fight between two camps. On one side you have the NDA committed to eradicating corruption, on the other side is the INDIA alliance focused on protecting corrupt leaders. You have to decide whether corruption should be removed or not," he said at the rally in Meerut.

"Corrupt people should listen... no matter how many attacks you make on Modi, this is Modi, he is not going to stop. No matter how big the corrupt person is, action will be taken. The one who has looted the country will have to give it back. This is Modi's guarantee," he said.

The INDIA bloc has alleged that the Modi government is misusing agencies to target its leaders to cripple the opposition before the Lok Sabha polls.

Raising the Katchatheevu island issue, Modi accused the Congress and the opposition alliance of trying to harm the country's unity and sovereignty.

"Today, yet another anti-India conduct of Congress has been exposed. The island of Katchatheevu, which lies between India and Sri Lanka and is extremely important from the perspective of national security, was given away by Congress after independence.

"India is still paying for the misdeeds of the Congress government," he said.

The 2024 Lok Sabha election is not just for making a government but to make a 'Viksit Bharat', Modi said, adding his government was preparing the roadmap for the next five years.

Supporters during an election campaign rally ahead of Lok Sabha polls, in Meerut, Sunday, March 31, 2024. Photo: PTI

Modi lauded Meerut as the land of "revolution and revolutionaries" that gave leaders like Chaudhary Charan Singh to the nation.

Former prime minister Charan Singh's grandson and Rashtriya Lok Dal president Jayant Chaudhary, who recently joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, shared the dais with the prime minister at the rally.

"This land of Meerut is the land of revolution and revolutionaries. It is blessed by Baba Aughad Dham. This land has given great sons like Chaudhary Charan Singh to the country. Our government has the privilege of awarding him Bharat Ratna. I respectfully pay tributes to Chaudhary Saheb," the prime minister said.

Modi recalled that he started his election campaign in 2014 and 2019 from Meerut. "Now the first rally of the 2024 elections is being held in Meerut itself," he said.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Haryana CM Naib Singh Saini and veteran actor Arun Govil of TV serial 'Ramayan' fame, who is the BJP candidate in Meerut, were present on the dais along with leaders of NDA constituents Apna Dal (S), Nirbal Shoshit Indian Hamara Aam Dal (Nishad) and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) as well as BJP and RLD candidates from Baghpat, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar and Bijnor.

Modi greeted everyone with "Ram-Ram" at the start of his speech. Referring to the removal of Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, Modi said that many tasks that were considered impossible have been done by his government in the last 10 years.

Supporters during an election campaign rally ahead of Lok Sabha polls, in Meerut, Sunday, March 31, 2024. Photo: PTI

"People used to consider it impossible for a grand temple of Ram Lalla to be constructed in Ayodhya. But today, Ram temple has been made and lakhs of people are also going there."

"You all saw that Kanha and Radha, like always, played Holi in Braj, this time Ram Lalla also played Holi in Avadh," Modi said.

"It was also considered impossible to implement one rank one pension. But, we implemented it. A stringent law against triple talaq was also considered impossible but today a law has been made against it."

"Reservation for women in Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies was considered impossible. But, Nari Shakti Vandan Yojna has become a reality today."

"Removal of Article 370 was once considered impossible. But Article 370 has been removed and development is also being done. This is why people today are blessing BJP with 370 seats."

Modi said the mandate of 2024 will make India the "leader of the world" and create the "third largest economic superpower."

"The election of 2024 is to make a developed India. The mandate of 2024 will make India the third largest economic superpower in the world."

"I want to remind you that when India was the 11th largest economy in the world, there was poverty all around in India.

"When India reached number five, 25 crore countrymen were successful in coming out of poverty and I guarantee you that when India reaches number three in the world, not only will poverty go away but at the same time a powerful empowered middle class will be created that will provide new energy to the nation," he said.

He said his government has already started preparations for the third term.

"We are making a roadmap for the coming five years. Work is going on rapidly on what major decisions we have to take in the first 100 days.

"In the last 10 years, you have seen only a trailer of development, now we have to take the country much further," he said.

The prime minister said he has lived in poverty and "that is why Modi understands very well the sorrow of every poor, the pain of every poor, the suffering of every poor".

"So I made schemes to address every concern of the poor. We have not only empowered the poor, but we have also given them back their self-respect," Modi said.

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