On a day Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the new BJP headquarters in New Delhi, his speech eulogising the party sparked off a political row. Sharing dais with several senior leaders, including party’s founding members LK Advani and MM Joshi, Modi said the BJP faced more adversity after India’s freedom than Congress would have even under British rule.
The comments drew an angry response from the Congress which said the Prime Minister should apologise to the nation for “denigrating” the freedom struggle.
Modi said the BJP has made more sacrifices than any other political party and described the new office, which is to be ready on former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday on December 25, 2018, as not just a structure but a symbol of sacrifices of party leaders.
Meanwhile, the BJP has bought land for its offices in 250 organisational districts across the country, party president Amit Shah announced at the ceremony.
“The BJP will be the only party which has faced hurdles from when it was born, with each effort scrutinised and judged negatively,” Modi said addressing party leaders and workers who had gathered at the site for the BJP’s new headquarters. The 70-room state-of-the-art eco-friendly building is expected to be ready before the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
“The BJP’s dedicated workers have faced more hardship in the past 60 years than the Congress would have even under British rule,” Modi said.
He made a veiled attack at the Congress saying BJP was a party which was devoid of dynasty politics. "We should project the party as an example in the world of a party which is democratic, free of dynasty politics and ideological," he said.
Within hours, the Congress retaliated saying Modi had “belittled” the sacrifices of freedom fighters as the RSS had not played any role in the struggle for independence.
“The Prime Minister has humiliated and denigrated the entire freedom struggle of India. Coming from the Prime Minister, this is unacceptable. We will not tolerate it,”said Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
“Neither BJP nor RSS participated in the freedom struggle. They actually supported the British,”he said.
Modi had also taken on the Trinamool Congress recalling the “difficulties” faced by the party in the run-up to the assembly elections in West Bengal. He said if a BJP candidate tried to open an office in the state, his life would become difficult.
Recalling that there was a time when BJP would find it difficult to find space for an office, he said that candidates of no other party would have forfeited more deposits than those of BJP as they “fought for ideology, not just results”.
Modi said that even if the BJP had to remain in opposition, it would not give up its ideology.