Uttar Pradesh elections: PM Modi, Rahul-Akhilesh, Mayawati converge at battleground Varanasi
PM Modi campaigns for the BJP during a road show in Varanasi. Photograph: (AFP)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned for the BJP in a mega-rally held in Uttar Pradesh's Jaunpur district near his home constituency of Varanasi.
The prime minister slammed Opposition parties for politicising the Indian Army's surgical strikes across the Line of Control in Pakistan in September last year.
"It is unfortunate that some political parties are questioning the Army out of political motives. For them even national security is a political tool," Modi said at the election rally in Jaunpur.
"It is unfortunate that some parties, in their greed for power, are just focusing on politics of opposing. But the people of the nation will not forgive this..." he said.
PM Modi also claimed that the Congress government had ignored the Army's demand for One Rank One Pension (OROP) for 40 years.
"For 40 years our forces demanded OROP but nothing happened. I had promised a BJP government will deliver on OROP and we did," PM Modi said.
He also added that the Congress "made fun" of soldiers by sanctioning just Rs 500 crore for the OROP scheme before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
"They announced Rs 500 crore for OROP, and tried to cash in on it during the Lok Sabha polls. When we calculated, we found that Rs 12,000 crore is needed for OROP," Modi said. "Announcing just Rs 500 crore was cheating the Army."
Earlier, thousands of people lined-up for PM Modi's roadshow in Varanasi which goes to polls on March 8.
Eastern Uttar Pradesh witnessing the sixth phase of polling today.
PM Modi's roadshow was met with huge crowds including BJP workers who lined the streets as the prime minister's cavalcade moved through the city.
It concluded with the prime minister offering prayers at the famous Kaal Bhairav Temple. The roadshow began from the main gate of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) campus main gate along with BJP chief Amit Shah.
Before beginning the roadshow, PM Modi put a garland on the statue of freedom fighter Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, who was also the founder of BHU.
There were reports of Samajwadi Pary workers erecting a stage in the middle of the prime minister's route which was removed by the police. Seven SP workers were detained by police.
BSP chief Mayawati also campaigned in Varanasi the same day, accusing the BJP of failing up to clean the Ganga river which remains one of the world's most polluted rivers. In 2014, Modi had famously promised to clean up the river as a part of his poll promise.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav also held a roadshow in the city.
Congress VP Rahul Gandhi and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav hold joint roadshow in Varanasi pic.twitter.com/JbH3u69SZ3— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) March 4, 2017
Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh and his wife Dimple Yadav also offered prayers at the city's Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party is contesting two out of five Assembly seats which fall under the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, currently held by the BJP.
The Congress has fielded candidates on three of the seats which cover almost the entire city. The SP is fighting the predominantly rural Rohaniya and Sevapuri.
In the 2012 Assembly elections, the Congress finished as the runner-up in Varanasi South and Varanasi Cantt.
In Varanasi North, the SP had finished third, behind BJP and BSP, and was followed closely by the Congress.
(WION with agency inputs)