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Controversial BJP Poll Chief Modi Turns Preacher In Punjab

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is also known as "Butcher of Gujarat", his Punjab counterpart Parkash Singh Badal and BJP leader and Punjab affairs in charge Shanta Kumar near Shyama Prasad Mukherjee's statue in Madhopur on Sunday.

MADHOPUR – In a bid to counter in-house critics and former allies who have accused him of divisive politics, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sought to project himself as a consensus seeker saying he was committed to unifying hearts and minds.

Modi used a rally here that was also attended by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to promise, “Yeh wo samay hai ki hum dalon ko bhi jodenge aur dilon ko bhi (this is the time when we will join parties and hearts).”

The message, beamed in the presence of one of BJP’s remaining major allies, was significant as it came a few days after party veteran L K Advani’s pointed remarks in Delhi over the need to gain allies, a dig at Modi in the wake of Janata Dal (U) leader Nitish Kumar quitting the NDA.

The rally was organized at a week’s notice after JD(U) left after slamming BJP for its decision to name Modi as head of the party campaign committee and the Gujarat CM seemed to have kept this in mind in signalling that he is open allies and willing to build bridges.

Although Modi touched on issues close to the saffron core like resettlement of Kashmiri Hindus and a criticism of Jawharlal Nehru’s legacy, his intention at this border town was to put forward a more conciliatory approach as he made a strong pitch for a development-centric agenda.

The saffron strongman chose to use the occasion to mark the “martyrdom” of BJP founder Syama Prasad Mookerji during a protest against Article 370 to urge Kashmiri youth to join the mainstream. “The youths in Kashmir valley want to be part of development. Guns can spill blood but will do no good to anyone’s life,” he said.

He referred to reports about Kashmiri youth going to the “tuition city” of Kota to prepare for competitive examinations. “A recent case of 300 women from Kashmir opting to prepare for IAS examination in Rajasthan’s Kota is a shame on the peace formula of this government. It shows those girls’ determination. Can’t we instill confidence and offer assurance to Kashmiri youth? They have lost out on education. I want to see them match the rest of India,” he said.

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