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
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.