National security is Modi’s pitch in U.P.

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Talks of strikes on land, air and space

Hitting back at Congress president Rahul Gandhi for mocking him with a “Happy World Theatre Day” greeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said he didn’t know whether to “cry or laugh” at those “intelligent people” who confused ASAT (anti-satellite) with a “set” used in theatre performances.

Mr. Modi punned to target Mr. Gandhi, a day after the Congress leader had in a tweet wished the Prime Minister a “Happy World Theatre Day” following his address to the nation announcing a successful Anti-Satellite Missile test.

‘Achievement ignored’

Referring to the test at an election rally in Meerut, Mr. Modi accused Opposition parties of “ignoring” the country’s “great achievement in space” and said their reactions raised questions about their intelligence.

“Yesterday, when I spoke of ASAT, they got confused. They thought I was talking of a theatre set,” quipped Mr. Modi, questioning those “who don’t have any understanding of [the difference between] a theatre set and a space anti-satellite ASAT missile.” However, Mr. Modi did not name anybody.

‘Surgical strikes’

While the government had shown the courage to conduct ‘surgical strikes’ on land, air and space, he said, the Opposition was unable to accept that India was now capable of performing “chowkidari in space.”

National security was the dominant theme of Mr. Modi’s speech, as he underscored the need for a “strong government” to ensure a “strong country.” The previous government had deferred the space satellite missile test, despite demands by the country’s scientists, and weakened the national security apparatus, asserted Mr. Modi.

If the Opposition alliance — he referred to it as “mahamilavat” or adulterated — even got a sniff of power, it would not be long before India receded to its past state, including bomb blasts every other day and protection to terrorists, he said.

Referring to the previous UPA government, Mr. Modi said, “They would check the caste and identity of the terrorist before deciding to punish or save the terrorist.”

The PM also questioned the intentions behind the Congress’s minimum guaranteed income plan, by wondering how would “those people who couldn’t open bank accounts for the poor in 70 years, deposit money in the accounts?”

“On one side, you have a damdaar [strong] chowkidar. On the other side, there is an abundance of the tainted,” the PM said.

With the BJP facing the combined strength of the SP, RLD and BSP in the State, Mr. Modi coined a new acronym for the grouping of parties “sharab” which means liquor in Hindi.

Asserting that “sharab” would destroy them, Mr. Modi asked people to stay away from it for the “good health” of the State. Any attempt to “divide U.P. into castes won’t work,” he added.

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