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Modi in Ballia claims he's a rebel against poverty

The PM cast himself in the mould of Mangal Pandey and Chittu Pandey

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow

  • Published 15.05.19, 5:12 AM
  • Updated 15.05.19, 5:12 AM
Narendra Modi in Ballia on Tuesday
Narendra Modi in Ballia on Tuesday Picture by PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday cast himself in the mould of Mangal Pandey and Chittu Pandey and said he had “rebelled” against poverty in the same way that they had stood up against British rule.

At a rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia, to which Mangal Pandey and Chittu Pandey traced their roots, Modi said allies Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party were packed with goons and they would not be able to fight terrorism.

“How can they fight terrorism when they cannot control the goons on the street?” the Prime Minister said, adding that he was the only one who could provide a strong government at the Centre.

Modi went on to compare himself with Mangal Pandey, the soldier whose rebellion in Barrackpore sparked the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, and Chittu Pandey, who had liberated Ballia from British rule in 1942 and ran a parallel government for a few weeks.

Ballia jis prakar ghulami ke khilaf baghi hua, waese hi ye Modi bhi garibi se larte larte, garibi ke khilaf baghi ho gaya hai (just as Ballia rebelled against subservience, Modi has become a rebel against poverty because of his long struggle against it),” Modi said.

Ballia is popularly known as “Baghi Ballia” because of its association with Mangal Pandey and Chittu Pandey.

Without naming BSP chief Mayawati, who had on Monday called Modi a “wife deserter”, the Prime Minister said: “Those who are cursing me have got frustrated sensing defeat in the elections. I accept their profanities against me as a gift. Modi doesn’t need to reply to their abuses, the people will answer them.”

“I work for the honour of mothers, sisters and daughters, to boost the confidence of poor people,” he added.

Modi accused “bua” (Mayawati) and “babua” (SP chief Akhilesh Yadav) of amassing wealth illegally.

“I throw an open challenge to them to stop abusing me and prove that I have also acquired benami properties or a farmhouse or a shopping complex or stashed money in foreign banks,” the Prime Minister said.

He said SP and BSP leaders, who used to hate each other, had become friends during the election because central agencies were investigating their illegal wealth.

Modi claimed that he belonged to the most backward caste but his aim was to uplift the poor, yet again invoking his humble origins for voter sympathy.

“I have suffered in poverty and backwardness. I have passed through the pain in which you are living now. I live to eradicate backwardness and poverty,” the Prime Minister asserted.

Later, he released a video of his appeal to voters in Varanasi, from where he is seeking re-election.

“Kashi (Varanasi) has given a direction to my political and spiritual life. Kashi is not a mere two-letter word for me, it is in my every pore and is a continuous source of spiritual, religious and cultural inspiration,” Modi said.

“The residents of Kashi will not only bless me by pressing the button on the lotus symbol (of the BJP), but also change the fate of India from the land of Baba Vishwanath (Lord Shiva),” he added.

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