Day after stunning success of ‘Mission Shakti’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his poll campaign at a mega rally in Uttar Pradesh’s politically-sensitive Meerut on Thursday. In a powerful speech, the Prime Minister launched a scathing attack on the Opposition for demanding the proof of the Balakot air strike. “Kya aapko saboot chahiye ya aapko sapoot chahiye (Do you want proof or do you want the good son of the soil),” asked PM Modi in a sharp swipe at the Opposition leaders.
“5 years ago, when I sought your blessings, you gave me a lot of love. I had said that I will return the blessings and the love with interest, and I had also said that I will give account of the work that I have done,” the Prime minister said.
The Opposition has been saying that the government must issue clarification on number of terrorists killed in the February 26 air strike. Recently, Sam Pitroda, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s close aide questioned the death toll in the Balakot airstrike by the Indian Air Force in response to the Pulwama terror attack and said it was wrong to attack Pakistan. “If they (IAF) killed 300, its ok. All I am saying is can you give me more facts and prove it,” said Pitroda in a wide-ranging interview to news agency ANI.
“I would like to know a little more because I read reports in the New York Times and other newspapers. Did we really attack? We really killed 300 people? I don’t know that. As a citizen, I am entitled to know and if I ask it is my duty to ask, that doesn’t mean I’m not a nationalist, That doesn’t mean I am on this side or that side. We need to know the facts. If you say 300 people were killed, I need to know that. We all need to know that, people of India need to know that and then comes global media which says nobody was killed. I look bad as an Indian citizen,” Pitroda had said.
Uttar Pradesh – the politically-sensitive state which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha – will go to polls in seven phases starting April 11, the Election Commission announced on March 10. Voting in Uttar Pradesh will be held on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19. The counting of votes will take place on May 23. The high-voltage elections in the state will see Congress chief Rahul Gandhi contesting from Amethi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi. Meanwhile, putting rumours of retirement to rest, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi will be contesting from Rae Bareli.
The date sheet shows Varanasi constituency voting last on May 19 while a number of high-profile seats, including Amethi and Rae Bareli, will vote on May 6. Voting in Lucknow, which elected Home Minister Rajnath Singh in 2014, would also vote on May 6 and so will be the case for another high-profile union minister Ram Vilas Paswan's Hajipur constituency.