Kedarnath/New Delhi, Oct 20 Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday attacked the Congress for rejecting his proposal in June 2013 when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat for redevelopment of Kedarnath shrine but the party hit back asking him to shed his “arrogance” and “Italian glasses”.
Modi, who offered prayers at the Kedarnath Temple and laid the foundation stone for five infrastructure projects, said he was happy to be at the shrine a day after Diwali and conveyed his greetings at the start of the Gujarati new year.
While Modi talked of his determination for redevelopment of the revered shrine, Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala and R.P.N. Singh later took potshots at him, saying the party-led UPA government had sanctioned Rs 8,000 crore for Kedarnath’s redevelopment following the flash floods in 2013. They accused Modi of telling “a lie even at the shrine”.
Surjewala accused Modi of insulting tradition by speaking with his back to the shrine and asked him to show his devotion the way Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had done by walking 18 km to the shrine. Surjewala referred to the “Italian glasses” Modi wore during his speech.
“If Modiji had not indulged in politics of taking credit, removed his Bulgari Italian glasses and walked 18 km to the shrine in devotion the way Rahulji had done,” he said in a tweet.
The term “Italian glasses” has often been used by BJP chief Amit Shah to attack Congress President Sonia Gandhi because of her Italian origins. Shah had also attacked Rahul Gandhi using the term during a BJP programme in Amethi earlier this month. The Congress on Friday sought to settle scores with the BJP by using the term against Modi.
Modi pledged to devote himself fully to realise the dream of a developed India by 2022, the 75th anniversary of Independence.
Modi said as Chief Minister of Gujarat he had visited Uttarakhand in the aftermath of the flash floods to offer help. “I came here to do all that I could for the victims… I had met the then Chief Minister (Vijay Bahuguna) and offered that Gujarat would redevelop Kedarnath. During the meeting they agreed. And I announced it outside to the media.
“But when the news was flashed on television, and it reached Delhi, the people there (UPA government) panicked and within hours the state government was pressurised to announce that it will redevelop Kedarnath itself,” Modi alleged.
Modi said after the BJP government came to power in Uttarakhand earlier this year “I understood that the work of Kedaranath redevelopment will be done by us”.
In June 2013, then Chief Minister Bahuguna and the Congress party had rebuffed Modi’s offer for redevelopment of Kedarnath and his Rs 3 crore cheque, which was in addition to a Rs 2 crore his state had donated for rain disaster relief.
The Congress and other parties had criticised Modi for trying to be the “Rambo” of rescue. The Congress had alleged he was trying to communalise a natural calamity.
Modi on Friday laid the foundation stone of reconstruction projects in Kedarpuri, including renovation of Adi Guru Shankaracharya’s tomb which was damaged in the floods.
Recalling the time spent by him in the Himalayas including at Garudachatti, Modi said the mountains have much to offer – for spiritual pursuits, nature lovers, for those interested in adventure, water sports.
Surjewala hit out at Modi through tweets. “By speaking with your back to the shrine, Modiji, you have insulted the tradition and heritage,” he said.
“Lie even in the temple premises. Modiji forgot to tell that the central government had given a rehabilitation package of Rs 8,000 crore in December 2013.”
“Lie upon lie. He forgot to tell that while the Congress-led UPA had given Rs 2,200 crore of Rs 8,000 crore to Uttarakhand government before May 2014. Modi government has not given the rest of money.”
Surjewala said the Congress government had built walls around the shrine, made arrangements for the stay of pilgrims and developed ghats.
“Modiji, Babaji knows all. In the feet of God, one should refrain from jumlas and big talk,” he said.
Surjewala also accused Modi of “arrogance”. “Was the work done by the then state government, people and the devotees of Lord Shiva to redevelop Kedarnath a waste?,” he asked.
R.P.N. Singh said: “When elections are near, Modiji is either called by Ganga-maa or by the Baba. The condition of Ganga is not hidden from anyone.”
He claimed that the projects that Modi had talked of had already been started by the previous Harish Rawat government.