Hitting out at the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday claimed that Dailt leader Sitaram Kesri was not allowed to complete his term as Congress president and was 'thrown out of office' to make way for Sonia Gandhi.
Addressing a rally on the last day of campaigning for the second and final phase of the Chhattisgarh assembly polls, Modi said four generations of a family ruled the country and 'benefitted from being in power', but the country did not benefit from their rule.
"The country knows that Sitaram Kesri, a Dalit, was not allowed to complete his five-year-term as the Congress president. He was thrown out of office and to the footpath to make way for Sonia Gandhi as the new party chief," he said.
"Earlier, Delhi had a remote-controlled government. The remote was in the hands of a family, which was afraid of the BJP," Modi said, targeting the Congress and the Gandhis.
He challenged the Congress to select someone 'capable' as its president, who did not belong to 'that one family'.
"Remember the days when four generations of a family ruled the country. What was the fate of the people? They only thought about the welfare of one family but never thought about the welfare of the people. How can we trust them that they will fulfil the aspirations of the people now," Modi said.
He claimed that Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh had to face a lot of challenges from the then Congress-led government at the Centre.
"For 10 years, the Centre was ruled by a remote-control government, which never paid attention towards Chhattisgarh," the prime minister said.
He praised the high voter turnout in Bastar in the first phase of the Chhattisgarh polls on November 12 and also in the panchayat election in Jammu and Kashmir and claimed that the people had given a befitting reply to those spreading terror.
"Despite being threatened by Naxals with guns and bombs, a huge voter turnout was recorded in Bastar. The poor tribals have shown faith in democracy and given a befitting reply to bombs and guns," Modi said.
"Similarly, yesterday, elections were held for the panchayats in Kashmir. Earlier, people used to skip conducting polls there. After Governor's Rule was imposed, we decided that the power of Kashmir should rest in the hands of the people of Kashmir.
"Terrorists had given a bandh call in Kashmir, but look at the trust of the people of Kashmir in democracy as a voter turnout of around 60-70 per cent was recorded. They have given a slap on the face of separatism and terrorism. They have shown the strength of democracy," he added.
Jammu and Kashmir recorded 74.1 per cent polling in the first phase of the panchayat polls held Saturday in 47 blocks -- 16 in Kashmir, 21 in Jammu and 10 in the Ladakh region.
Lashing out at the Congress, Modi said.
"The doors have been opened for the welfare of Kashmir. Who had stopped the Congress from doing this earlier? They played backdoor games with terrorists which will not be allowed anymore. We took courageous steps one by one."
He also targeted Congress chief Rahul Gandhi over farm loan waiver, an issue that has taken centrestage in the Chhattisgarh polls.
"As elections approach, the Congress plays a game of promises. But they cannot mislead the country anymore. They must answer what did they do for the welfare of our farmers when they ruled for four generations.
"They kept the farmers in a pathetic condition during their 50-year rule. Had they strengthened the farmers, fulfilled their requirements, our farmers would have been prosperous," the prime minister said.
"They are making false promises of loan waiver to the people of Chhattisgarh. The same promise was made to farmers during the Karnataka polls, but even after around a year has passed, the promise is yet to be fulfilled.
"Instead, the (Karnataka) government is issuing warrants and arresting farmers against whom debts are pending," he added.
Praising the Bharatiya Janata Party government under Raman Singh in the state, Modi said it had ensured soil health cards for 75 lakh farmers, adding in a sarcastic vein that the Congress had failed to provide health cards to humans.
"Though the Raman Singh government is in power in the state for the last 15 years, it got the actual opportunity to work for the welfare of the state after the NDA government came to power at the Centre in 2014. Raman Singh had to fight for the rights of the state with the Congress government at the Centre," he told the gathering.
Modi said Singh had sought support from the Centre, when it was under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) rule, to fight Naxals, but the "remote controlled" government behaved as if Chhattisgarh did not exist.
He added that if the BJP government under Singh remained in power for another 10-15 years, Chhattisgarh would feature among the top three developed states in the country.
"Chhattisgarh has turned 18 now. This is a very crucial phase for the state. Just like parents care for the future of their children when they turn 18, I urge the people of the state to think about the welfare of the state and once again give Raman Singh a chance to serve," the prime minister told the crowd.
Later, speaking in Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh, Modi launched a frontal attack on the Congress, saying cheating was in the blood of the opposition party.
"The Congress continues to misguide people. Cheating is in the blood of the Congress, but the people of Madhya Pradesh will not give importance to that party.
"Is it the same Congress which praises the cow in Madhya Pradesh and mentions some schemes in its poll manifesto, but slaughters calves on the streets of Kerala and eats beef?" Modi asked the crowd.
He was apparently referring to an incident in Kerala's Kannur last year, when a calf was slaughtered to protest against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government's notification on sale of cattle for slaughter.
The Congress, in its manifesto for the November 28 Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls, talks about commercial production of 'gaumutra' (cow urine) and 'kanda' (cowdung cakes).
Modi said his government had stopped the "theft" of the country's money to the tune of Rs 90,000 crore per year by detecting fake beneficiaries through technology.
"I have been heavily abused by Congress leaders, but I know the reason behind it. The use of Aadhaar-based technology has detected six crore fake beneficiaries of government schemes. My government has stopped the annual theft of Rs 90,000 crore of the country's money," he said.
Modi also targeted Chhindwara MP and Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath over a video and his claims of development.
In the clip that went viral on the social media, Nath had purportedly said the winnability of a candidate was the most important factor for him, rather than his character.
The 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly will go to the polls on November 28 and the results will be announced on December 11.
Congress more of a family enterprise than political party: Shah
BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday said the Congress had become more of a family enterprise aimed at dynastic service than a political party aimed at public service, taking aims at the opposition party after Prime Minister Narendra Modi dared it to appoint a head from outside the Gandhi family.
In a dig at Congress leaders, including P Chidambaram who had named several party presidents hailing from outside the Gandhi family, Shah said in tweets that Modi's challenge had ruffled several feathers with 'many courtiers going out of the way to prove their loyalty'.
Evidently, the prime minister's point had struck a raw nerve, he added.
At a poll rally in Chhattisgarh on Friday, Modi had said if the the Congress appointed someone who was not from the (Gandhi) family as its president for at least five years, then he would believe that Jawaharlal Nehru had indeed put in place a truly democratic system in the opposition party.
'The Prime Minister is right. The Congress (Indira) since its inception in 1978 has been led by four members of one family for most of the years, thus making it more of a family enterprise aimed at dynastic service rather than a political party aimed at public service,' Shah tweeted.
He was referring to the split in the Congress in 1978 following its loss in the 1977 parliamentary polls, with the Indira Gandhi-led faction recognised as Congress(I). As she returned to power in 1980, her faction was later recognised by the Election Commission as the real Congress.
Two Congress chiefs, who were not from the Nehru-Gandhi family, were treated in the 'most shabby' manner possible in the recent past, Shah alleged.
While P V Narasimha Rao's body, after his demise, was never allowed inside the Congress office, Sitaram Kesri, a towering leader, was 'roughed up by goons loyal to we know who', he added.
The BJP president cited the examples of several 'non-family' Congress presidents to back his claim.
'Going further back in time, the likes of Babu Jagjivan Ram, S Nijalingappa, K Kamaraj were humiliated by one family. Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, though senior, was not allowed to be president by one family. U N Dhebar was asked to step aside as Congress president for Mrs. Indira Gandhi,' he said.
Shah claimed that Acharya Kripalani, a stalwart who worked closely with Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, was 'humiliated' through the 1950s and 1960s.
'His crime- he moved the first motion of no-confidence against the Nehru Government,' he said.
Following Modi's challenge, Chidambaram had hit back by listing out the names of Congress presidents from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family.