The BJP on Wednesday tore into the Congress manifesto with Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging it is a ‘dhakosla patra’ (sham manifesto) full of lies and the party chief Amit Shah and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying the promise to review AFSPA would pose a threat to the national security.
The pledge to scrap the British-era sedition law that is reviled by activists was also slammed with Shah asking the Congress who was it trying to protect. He said the Congress leaders should "drown" themselves in a pool of water, as he pledged his party's support to the forces and sanctity of the AFSPA.
Meanwhile, Sitharaman alleged that various provisions in the opposition party's manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls are a threat to the country as it favours separatists and terrorists and will demoralise the armed forces.
The AFSPA gives the armed forces certain protection from legal action in carrying out their operations in disturbed areas.
BSP supremo Mayawati also termed the Congress manifesto as a "showoff" and an "illusion" and said there was no credibility of the promises made by the party due to its past.
Addressing his second rally in Arunachal Pradesh within a week, PM Modi referred to the Congress manifesto for the 2004 Lok Sabha elections and said it had promised that every house would have electricity by 2009.
"However, till 2014 around 18,000 villages in the country were still to be electrified... Just like them (the Congress), their manifesto is corrupt and full of lies. Therefore, it should be called 'dhakosla patra' (sham manifesto), not a manifesto," PM Modi said at the rally in Pasighat, 220 km from the state capital Itanagar.
The prime minister also brought up the Congress manifesto while launching his campaign for the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal with rallies in Siliguri and Kolkata.
He accused the Congress and the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) of being sympathisers of Pakistan who wanted to "break the morale" of India's security forces and make them "helpless" in the fight against terror.
"I saw this 'dhakosla patra' released by the Congress. It is meant to break the morale of our security forces.
"It promises removing AFSPA from disturbed areas like Kashmir. This is an attempt to render our brave soldiers helpless in the fight against terror, have their hands and feet tied," PM Modi told the rally in the north Bengal town of Siliguri.
He accused the Congress of being "soft" on terror because of its "appeasement" politics, which was reflected in its governments scrapping tough anti-terror laws like TADA and POTA.
"We too scrapped over 1,400 obsolete laws from statute books. We have also withdrawn the AFSPA from some areas after peace returned there. The Congress' election promise will help those peddling terror from Pakistan," he said in Kolkata, accusing the Congress party of "playing with national security and trying to destabilise the country".
The prime minister said the manifesto showed that the Congress had no faith in the security forces and the law of the land.
"This chowkidar stands as a wall between the sham manifesto of the Congress and national security. This manifesto has come with an expiry date--May 23 (the day poll results will be announced). On May 23, both the Congress and its 'dhakosla patra' will be gone," he said.
Lashing out at the Congress for promising to remove the anti-sedition law from the CrPC in its manifesto, Shah asked, who was the Congress trying to protect.
"Who do you want to protect? When anti-India slogans like 'bharat tere tukde honge' were shouted in JNU you stood with them in the name of right to freedom of speech. Do you want to protect those booked under the anti-sedition law?" the BJP president asked at a rally in Dehradun.
Advising the Congress president not to "stoop so low for the politics of vote", Shah asked him to stop playing with the country's security.
He also slammed the Congress for promising to revoke the AFSPA which gives special powers to the armed forces saying the party was not bothered about the safety of the country's security personnel.
"Rahul baba, it is not within the powers of your party to revoke AFSPA which is for the security of our armed forces. BJP stands like a rock against your designs. We cannot risk the lives of our armed forces. We can't demoralise them," he said.
"The Narendra Modi government stands like a rock with the armed forces," Shah added.
Sitharaman told reporters in Delhi that the Congress manifesto is not in national interest and indirectly helps terrorists and others working against the country.
She insisted that her party was not against withdrawing the AFSPA, if situation permitted it, but the Congress' promise to tweak its provisions, if voted to power, will allow terrorists and their friends to target security personnel with manufactured allegations.
The Modi government in tandem with respective state governments has withdrawn AFSPA from Meghalaya and Tripura and most parts of Assam, she said, asking that from how many places did the Congress remove it when it was in power during 2004-14.
On the Congress' stand that powers of armed forces and human rights should be balanced, she said it should not be presumed that the former is against the latter.
"It does not portend well for unity of the country and the morale of armed forces," she said.