This Article is From Feb 07, 2020

PM In Assam, BJP In Delhi vs Rahul Gandhi's "Danda" Remark: 10 Points

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "One with a protective shield of mothers and sisters of the country cannot be harmed"

PM Narendra Modi addresses a rally in Assam after the Bodo Accord

New Delhi: For the second time in two days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's "beating him with danda (stick)" comment, this time before a huge gathering in Assam to celebrate the historic Bodo accord. Yesterday, he had referred to the comment - made by the Congress MP at a Delhi election rally - in parliament while replying to a debate. In what appeared to be coordinated strategy, the ruling BJP attacked Rahul Gandhi in the Lok Sabha, demonstrating the party's resolve to embarrass the Congress on what appears to be a self-goal by its former president.

Here's a cheatsheet to this big story:

  1. PM Modi, at an event in Assam's Kokrajhar, said: "Mothers and sisters have come to bless me in such huge numbers. Sometimes people talk of beating me with sticks. This Modi, who is protected by blessings of so many mothers and sisters, no stick can harm him."

  2. Rahul Gandhi had made the comments at an election rally in Delhi. "The way Narendra Modi is making speeches, in six months he will not be able to leave his house. The youth of India will beat him with dandas (sticks), and show him that this country cannot move ahead with giving jobs to the youth," the MP had said on Wednesday.

  3. The PM referred to it in parliament and made light of the comment. "I heard that one leader said we will beat Modi with a stick in six months. Even I will prepare in these six months and do more surya namaskars so that I am ready...the kind of abuses I have been subjected to in the past 20 years, I will make myself gaali-proof (abuse-proof) and also danda-proof (stick-proof)," the Prime Minister said.

  4. PM Modi was not in parliament today but the BJP did not intend to let Mr Gandhi's comment go so easily. As Rahul Gandhi asked a listed question, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan responded with a statement condemning his "danda" comment.

  5. "His father was prime minister too. I don't think in the worst case our party leaders have ever made such outlandish personal remarks threatening to beat with dandas (sticks) and throwing out of the country," Harsha Vardhan said, urging the house to condemn the comments.

  6. As Congress MPs protested around the Speaker's chair, one of them, Manickam Tagore, walked to the government benches and shouted at the minister to stop. Several BJP MPs were seen holding him as if to prevent a physical scuffle. The Congress said its MP was pushed, he never tried to attack the minister.

  7. "BJP obviously doesn't like me to speak in the house. So in a completely unparliamentary manner the Health Minister raised something that I had said outside, which he has no business doing. I think the main issue is that we are being stifled. We are not allowed to speak in parliament," Rahul Gandhi told reporters.

  8. The row over the "danda" remarks has broken out just before voting for the Delhi election, which has become a prestige battle for the BJP as it tries to return to power and defeat the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

  9. Rahul Gandhi's remarks, say sources, could not have come at a better time, with the "danda" statement coming off as an egregious attack on the country's prime minister.

  10. For the Congress, it is reminiscent of the "Chowkidar Chor Hai" campaign ahead of the 2019 national election that PM Modi successfully converted into a "Main Bhi Chowkidar" campaign in his support. Once again, the party has been stumped by PM Modi's ability to use criticism to convey a message of personal targeting.