Narendra Modi on Monday attacked the Congress-led UPA government over lack of a war memorial as he targeted the massive constituency in the armed forces, minutes after felicitating melody queen Lata Mangeshkar on the 51st anniversary of her memorable song 'Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon'.
In his politically loaded speech, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate referred to the beheading of an Indian soldier by Pakistan, cyber attacks by China and alleged lack of funding for acquisition of weaponry, to mount a scalding assault on the Centre.
"There is no country in the world where there is not a war memorial. India has fought several wars, thousands of our soldiers have been martyred but there is no memorial to honour their sacrifice.
"Should we not remember them? Should not there be a war memorial? I feel some good things have been left for me to do," he said, apparently referring to surveys predicting a good BJP showing in the Lok Sabha polls.
As the crowd lustily cheered "Modi lao desh bachao (bring Modi, save the nation), the Gujarat chief minister said, "This is not the voice of Mumbai alone, this is the voice of the entire country, from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari, and it is said people's voice is a message from God."
The BJP's prime ministerial contender touched upon the highly emotive issue of beheading of a soldier by the Pakistanis.
"A small country beheads our jawan and we fail to do anything. Bring the head of our soldier back to the Indian soil," he said, adding more Indian soldiers had lost their lives in terrorist attacks than wars.
"A soldier who wants to take the enemy's bullet on his chest suffers the most when he dies in his own cantonment instead of the battlefield," he said.
Apparently referring to cyber attacks by China, he said, with the country having a big talent pool of information communication technology professionals why could it not stop such intrusions.
He also flayed the government for massive import of armaments to meet the requirements of defence forces.
"Today we have to make huge imports of armaments to replenish our weaponry. How would the bullets made in alien barracks fire?" he asked.
Calling for formulating effective programmes and policies for indigenous production of weaponry for armed forces, he said there was no reason why the country could not become self-reliant in defence production and even export arms over the next decade.
"Our ancestors exported swords when battles were fought with swords, why can't we do so now? India cannot wait for it to be attacked to be self-reliant," he said and underlined the need for introducing defence production research as part of curriculum at science institutes.
He lauded the erstwhile NDA government of Atal Behari Vajpayee for the Pokhran II nuclear bomb test and for introducing the practice of bringing back the bodies of martyred soldiers to their homes.
"There was a time when only the uniforms of soldiers used to reach their homes as sign of their martyrdom. Vajpayee introduced the practice of sending their bodies home. Today, in his death, the fallen soldier inspires patriotism as his community, village and the entire state assembles to pay him homage," he said.
Earlier, Modi felicitated Lata Mangeshkar, on the 51st anniversary of the moving song 'Aye mere watan ke logon'. The song she first sang in 1963 after the Sino-India war, had moved Jawaharlal Nehru to tears.