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Mann ki baat: Modi refuses to talk on Lalitgate, opposition parties slam the silence

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

In his first ever radio address after the controversy broke off, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Mann ki Baat programme sidelined the mention of links between foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje with former IPL boss Lalit Modi.

The PM touched upon diverse themes but omitted any mention of the controversy which has dominated headlines and is seen as the first major case of impropriety in his one-year regime.

Offering a justification for the omission, the PM said that ‘Mann ki Baat’ was meant for issues close to his heart and not strictly business of government.

“Sometimes, some people feel that I should make big government announcements in Mann ki Baat programme. No. For that, I work day and night. With you, I do light-hearted talk and I get pleasure from that,” he said.

However, the opposition lost little time in slamming the Prime Minister, highlighting the fact that Modi never missed an opportunity to tweet messages on various issues, but was reticent on this crucial topic.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad expressed disappointment over the PM’s “failure” to speak on Lalit Modi controversy.

“It is in the interest of the PM to take immediate action against those involved in corruption. Otherwise, nationally and internationally, it is going to haunt him wherever he goes,” Azad told TOI.

In Tamil Nadu, former finance minister P Chidambaram said, “The prime minister, who criticized Manmohan Singh for being silent, is silent now.”

Meanwhile, AAP leader Ashish Ketan said, “The whole country has only one Mann ki Baat which is what is the prime minister’s take on ‘Lalitgate’, Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhra Raje. And that Mann Ki Baat remained unaddressed.”

 

BJP spokesman Sambit Patra countered the opposition charge, saying the PM had spoken on pertinent issues, like protection of the girl child, social security and water conservation. “There are far more issues than satisfying the frustration of Congress,” he said.

It has been alleged that in her official role as foreign minister, Swaraj had approached UK authorities to help Modi with a travel document at a time when the former cricket administrator was wanted by India law enforcement agencies.

On the other hand, Raje has been accused of helping Modi’s bid to gain residency permit in the UK on the ground that he was being persecuted by Indian agencies.

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India, elections
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the 'Global Mobility Summit' in New Delhi, India, VOA

India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

India, elections
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Continues To Stay Mum On The #MeToo Movement. Wikimedia Commons

“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

India,India, elections
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents as he accuses Narendra Modi’s government of buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault at a highly inflated price, in New Delhi, India. VOA

The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

India, elections
Modi Appeals For A Regional Front Against Terrorism, flickr

Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Announces Easier Access to Credit

Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)