Yogi Adityanath's controversial description of the armed forces as "Modi-ji ka Sena" was picked up today by Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. The phrase had triggered criticism both from the defence personnel and the opposition and yesterday, the Election Commission sought an explanation from Yogi Adityanath.
Speaking at Rampur in western Uttar Pradesh this afternoon, Mr Naqvi accused the opposition of questioning the air strikes on a Jaish-e Mohammad camp in Pakistan's Balakot, which took place days after the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama.
"Our missiles, our security forces destroyed the whole area. This was not a normal event. But the problem is, the Congress, the SP, the BSP, everyone started shouting - 'prove that Modi-ji, Modi's army had gone door to door and killed the terrorists'," Mr Naqvi said at a rally held after Jaya Prada, a new entrant to the BJP, filed her nomination from Rampur.
Yogi Adityanath had made the controversial remark at a rally in Ghaziabad on Sunday.
"The Congress used to serve biryani to terrorists, but Modiji's Sena (Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Army) gives them only bullets and bombs. That's the difference. Congress people use "ji" for terrorists like Masood Azhar, but under the leadership of PM Modi, the BJP government is breaking the backs of terrorists by striking their camps," he said.
It upset former army officers and opposition leaders, who maintained that an apolitical entity such as the armed forces, which serve the nation, should not be dragged into electoral politics.
"It is shocking to hear the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister referring to the Indian Army as the 'Modi Sena'. Such blatant usurping of our beloved Indian Army is an insult and a humiliation," said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Congress leader Priyanka Chaturvedi demanded an apology from Yogi Adityanath.
"This is an insult to our armed forces. They are India's Armed Forces, not the Prachar Mantri's private army. Adityanath must apologise," the Congress leader tweeted. Prachar is the Hindi term for propaganda.