Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi kicked off their campaign in battleground Bihar on Friday and went for each other’s jugular over the Chinese intrusion in Ladakh, both crying “insult” to soldiers and their families. The abrogation of Article 370 and farm sector reform laws figured prominently in the bitter electoral discourse where “jungle raj” during the 15 years of RJD dispensation, the migrant crisis and joblessness were also hotly debated.
Addressing three back to back rallies in Dehri-on-Sone, Gaya and Bhagalpur, Modi castigated the opposition over its stand on the abrogation of Article 370 and the Galwan Valley clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Eastern Ladakh, an emotive issue for the state as several soldiers of the Bihar regiment were killed in hand-to-hand combat.
Appealing to the nationalistic zeal of the electorate, Modi raised the issue of annulment of Article 370 which bestowed special status on the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“You tell me, was not the country waiting for Article 370 to be scrapped? When the NDA government did that, they are talking about restoring the provision if they are back in power.
“Still they have the audacity to come and seek votes in Bihar which sends its sons and daughters to protect the nation. Is it not an insult to the people of Bihar?” he told an election rally at Dehri-on-Sone in Rohtas district.
Referring to the Galwan Valley clash with Chinese troops, Modi said the sons of Bihar valiantly laid down their lives for the tricolour but did not let “Mother India bow her head”.
Rahul Gandhi hit back, accusing the prime minister of “insulting” the soldiers with his comments that there was no Chinese intrusion into India.
Addressing a rally in Hisua in Nawada district, Gandhi mounted a blistering assault on the prime minister over the intrusion by the Chinese military in Ladakh.
“They have seized 1,200 sq km of our land. But when the Chinese army intruded, why did our prime minister insult our soldiers by saying that nobody entered into the Indian side?” he said.
“You ask any army jawan and he will tell you that today the Chinese army is standing in the area which we used to patrol earlier. Our land has been snatched away from us,” he said.
“The question is, Modi ji, when will you throw out the Chinese soldiers sitting in our territory?” Gandhi asked.