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Modi rakes up Godhra train arson at Darbhanga rally, says Lalu tried to save guilty

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing an election rally in Darbhanga.
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By Alok Mohit

Patna, May 4, 2024: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday raked up the tragic incident of the Godhra train arson from 2002, accusing RJD president Lalu Prasad Yadav of attempting to shield the perpetrators during the UPA government’s tenure.

Addressing an election rally in Bihar’s Darbhanga, Modi recounted the horrifying incident in which over 60 kar sevaks, returning from Ayodhya on the Sabarmati Express, were burnt alive near Gujarat’s Godhra railway station in February 2002.

Modi alleged that Lalu Prasad, who was then the railway minister, went to great lengths to protect those responsible for the crime. He said Lalu Prasad, who is convicted in fodder scam cases and is out of jail on bail, set up of an inquiry committee, which purportedly exonerated the guilty parties, but the court dismissed the report.

Accusing opposition parties of indulging in appeasement politics, Modi asserted that this mindset led to attempts to divert reservations from marginalised communities to Muslims. He also cited Babasaheb Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru’s opposition to religious-based reservations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an election rally in Darbhanga Photo Aftab Alam Siddiqui

Modi criticised Lalu Prasad’s son and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav for allegedly invoking Hindu-Muslim narratives during election rallies and questioned whether the country identified martyrs like Abdul Hameed based on their religion. He indirectly targeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Tejashwi Yadav, referring to them as “shehzadas who consider the nation their fiefdom”.

The Prime Minister also pledged to safeguard reservations for SCs, STs, and OBCs, rejecting any manipulation based on religion. He accused the Congress of betraying the principles of Ambedkar and attempting to snatch reservations meant for Dalits and tribals to appease Muslims.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an election rally in Darbhanga Photo Aftab Alam Siddiqui

Turning to developmental promises, Modi assured affordable healthcare for senior citizens and vowed to provide free treatment for those above 70 years of age. He also highlighted infrastructure developments in Bihar, such as the Darbhanga airport and initiatives to boost the local economy.

During his address, Modi also he paid homage to the late Maharaja Kameshwar Singh of Darbhanga and praised the sacred land of Mithila and its people. He also acknowledged the significance of Darbhanga and Mithila in Indian culture and heritage.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an election rally in Darbhanga Photo Aftab Alam Siddiqui

Modi congratulated the nation on the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, calling it a historic moment. “After 500 years, our wait has ended. And the wait wasn’t just for Lord Ram, it was for Goddess Sita and Mithila too,” he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an election rally in Darbhanga Photo Aftab Alam Siddiqui

Modi urged the people to vote for the NDA candidates in the upcoming elections, promising continued service and development. He emphasised the importance of voting and urged citizens to exercise their democratic rights responsibly.

Darbhanga Lok Sabha constituency will go to polls on May 13 in the fourth phase of elections.

The author Alok Mohit is former senior News Editor of Hindustan Times, Patna and Chandigarh editions 

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