Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's imposing statue in Gujarat has not been built to "belittle" former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Speaking at an election rally in Gujarat's Amreli, PM Modi said though the Congress says Sardar Patel was their leader, no leader of that party has visited the statue so far.
"Don't you feel proud when the Statue of Unity and Gujarat's name appear when you search for the world's tallest statue on Google?
"I have not built Sardar Patel's statue to belittle Pandit Nehru. Patel's stature is so tall that you don't have to try too hard to make others look small," PM Modi said in his speech, most of which was in Gujarati.
The Statue of Unity, dedicated to Sardar Patel, was unveiled by PM Modi on October 31 last year at Sadhu Bet island on Narmada river.
The 182-metre tall statue was built at a cost of Rs 2,389 crore.
PM Modi also said his government has managed to contain terrorism to only "two and a half" districts in Jammu and Kashmir and that no bomb blast took place elsewhere in the country in the last five years.
He blamed policies of the Congress-led governments for the Kashmir issue remaining unresolved.
"In the past, bomb blasts used to happen at regular intervals, be it Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Kashi and Jammu. But, have you heard (of) a single blast in the last five years? Don't you think it's a service to the nation? Are you not feeling secure now?" he asked the gathering.
"Terrorism has been contained to only two and a half districts of Jammu and Kashmir. There is absolutely no problem in other parts of that state also. There was about 75 per cent voter turnout during the recent panchayat polls in Kashmir and not a single incident of violence was reported," he said.
Targeting the Congress, he sought to know what it did after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack when it was in power.
"Weren't you all angry at that time? But, do you think the Congress has improved now? Can we trust the Congress? And what Modi did after the Uri attack? You must be aware how we taught a lesson to Pakistan through the surgical strike," he said addressing the people.
PM Modi said before the 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign, people asked him what he will do (to deal with terrorists). "At that time, I said instead of me saying anything, the soldiers' fingers (on the trigger) will give a reply," he said.
"Am I responsible for the present situation in Kashmir? Just because of the policies of Congress, we could not solve the Kashmir issue even after 70 years," he said.
Referring to the Balakot air strike after the Pulwama terror attack, PM Modi said, "They (Pakistan) forgot that this is Modi...For the first time, you must have seen Pakistan crying. They were urging Modi to pick up the phone...we have put Pakistan in such a situation."
On Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's statement of trying to approach India after the Balakot air strike, PM Modi said the leader "had to make a public plea to us to pick up the phone".
PM Modi said his "grooming" in Gujarat made him stand firm during the Doklam standoff with China in 2017.
Then, people from other parts of the country used to call and ask him to take extra care, PM Modi said.
"On the other hand, people from Gujarat used to boost my morale," PM Modi said and thanked his home state for grooming him to handle the tough situation.
Troops of India and China were locked in the 73-day-long standoff after the Indian side stopped construction of a road in the disputed tri-junction by the Chinese Army.
"This is not an election rally for me, but a rally to say thanks to people of Gujarat for the grooming I received here," PM Modi said.
He slammed the Congress over its poll promise to review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), scrap the sedition law and reduce security forces in Kashmir.
"In their manifesto, Congress has promised that they will withdraw forces from Kashmir. Imagine what will happen then. Don't you think terrorists would kill Amarnath pilgrims without the presence of Army? What will happen to Vaishnodevi pilgrims or tourists going to Srinagar?" PM Modi said.
"In that situation, do you think the Army will be ready to fight? The Congress also wants to repeal the sedition law. Can we give a free hand to those who want to break the country into pieces...the tukde tukde gang?" he said.
He said the Congress "dreaming" to rule the country again even as it is fighting on the lowest number of seats in the current Lok Sabha polls since Independence.
"After Independence, the Congress won the lowest number of Lok Sabha seats in 2014. They set a new record by coming down from 400 to just 40. It happened because you gave us (BJP) 26 out of 26 (Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat)," he said.
"In 2019, the Congress is contesting the lowest number of seats since Independence and even want to rule the country. This is the power of a tea-seller from Gujarat," he said.
In 2014, the Congress came to its lowest tally after Independence and in 2019, it is fighting on the lowest number of Lok Sabha seats but still "dreaming" of becoming the ruling party, he said.
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