New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told voters in Karnataka that they should chant ‘Jai Bajrang Bali’ while casting their votes in the upcoming assembly elections.
During his election campaign in Uttara Kannada on Wednesday, The New Indian Express reported, Modi began his speech with slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Bajrang Bali ki Jai’. The new addition is probably a response to the point in the Congress party’s state manifesto where it says it will ban the Bajrang Dal if voted to power.
At the end of his speech, Modi said, “Please cast your vote and do not forget to chant Jai Bajrang Bali when you exercise your franchise.”
During the speech, Modi accused the Congress and its leaders of abusing him, NDTV reported. “In this election, Congress is seeking votes in the name of its leader who is retiring…the other way in which they are seeking votes is by abusing Modi,” he alleged.
“Will anyone in Karnataka accept this abuse culture?Will anyone like abusing someone? Does anyone like even a small man being abused? Will Karnataka forgive those abusing?” “What will you (people) do this time? Will you punish them? Will you punish the abusers?… When you press the button in the polling booth, punish by saying ‘Jai Bajrang Bali’…,” Modi continued.
Modi chanted ‘Jai Bajrang Bali’ at all three of his rallies on Wednesday.
In its Karnataka manifesto, the Congress has said, “We believe that law and Constitution is sacrosanct and cannot be violated by individuals and organisations like Bajrang Dal, PFI or others promoting enmity or hatred, whether among majority or minority communities. We will take decisive action as per law including imposing a ban on such organisations.”
Modi then took a swipe at the Congress for promising to ban the Bajrang Dal in its election manifesto for Karnataka. He said that the party “had earlier locked up Lord Ram and now it wanted to lock up those who chant Jai Bajrang Bali”. The Congress then accused Modi of hurting the religious sentiments of Hindu devotees by equating Lord Hanuman with the Bajrang Dal, demanding an apology from him.
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said in a press briefing that it is “shameful” for the prime minister to draw such a parallel. He termed this “an insult” to crores of devotees of Lord Hanuman.