Ready for 1,000-year fight with Pak: Modi re­sponse to Uri strike Cong will con­test UP polls alone, says Rahul Gandhi

STRONG MES­SAGE Prime Min­is­ter says ter­ror at­tack in Jammu and Kash­mir will never be for­got­ten

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Ku­mar Ut­tam and DK Singh letters@hin­dus­tan­times.com Umesh Raghu­van­shi uraghu­van­shi@hin­dus­tan­times.com

In­dia will not for­get the mil­i­tant at­tack that killed 18 sol­diers at an Army base in Kash­mir, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi said on Satur­day, but tem­pered calls for mil­i­tary ret­ri­bu­tion by chal­leng­ing Pak­istan to a war on poverty, un­em­ploy­ment and il­lit­er­acy.

In his first pub­lic com­ments since the Uri at­tack, Modi sought to take the bat­tle across the bor­der by di­rectly ad­dress­ing the peo­ple of Pak­istan and telling them that their rulers are “mis­lead­ing” them by talk­ing about a 1,000-year war over Kash­mir — an al­lu­sion to an oft-quoted re­mark by for­mer Pak­istan PM Zul­fiqar Ali Bhutto.

In what could be in­ter­preted as pro­vok­ing Pak­istan, Modi said the days are not far when the peo­ple of Pak­istan will come out to fight against their rulers on the ques­tion of ter­ror­ism. He did not di­rectly name Pak­istan but men­tioned the neigh­bour­ing coun­try sev­eral times to drive home what was the re­cur­ring theme — there is only one coun­try “that ex­ports ter­ror to the en­tire world”.

“Your [Pak­istani] rulers speak of fight­ing In­dia for a thou­sand years. Today, there is such a gov­ern­ment in Delhi that I am ready to ac­cept your chal­lenge... Pak­istan’s ‘awam’ (peo­ple), I want to say to you, In­dia is ready to fight you,” Modi said. “Come, if you have the courage, let’s fight poverty...un­em­ploy­ment…il­lit­er­acy. Let us fight and see who is able to end poverty first.” PM Naren­dra Modi at a pub­lic rally in Kozhikode on Satur­day.

The Congress will go it alone in the Ut­tar Pradesh elec­tion due early next year, party vice-pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi has said.

Gandhi is on a 2500-km ‘Kisan Ya­tra’ across Ut­tar Pradesh, seek­ing to re­vive the Congress in a bell­wether state it dom­i­nated be­fore re­gional par­ties built along caste lines dis­placed it from power 27 years ago and left it a mar­ginal player.

But Gandhi ruled out any op­por­tunis­tic elec­tion al­liances with other par­ties.

“I feel the Congress should stand on its own and fight the 2017 assem­bly elec­tions on the ba­sis of its ide­ol­ogy and poli­cies without com­pro­mis­ing with them,” he told Hin­dus­tan Times in an in­ter­view.

Gandhi spoke on a wide range of is­sues — from ques­tion­ing the BJP-led cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s poli­cies that he said pro­moted busi­nesses above farm­ers to ac­cus­ing Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi of botch­ing up his re­sponse to vi­o­lence in Kash­mir and in deal­ing with Pak­istan.

PTI PHOTO

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