BJP president JP Nadda flagged off his party’s ”Shaheed Samman Yatra” from the defence personnel-dominated Sawad village in poll-bound Uttarakhand on Monday and accused the Congress of misleading the armed forces over their demand for ”One Rank One Pension” for decades.
Addressing a public meeting in Sawad on the occasion of the launch of the yatra, Nadda said no defence equipment were purchased for over 20 years when the Congress was in power at the Centre and the process of strengthening and modernising the armed forces began only when Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over the reins of power.
”Under the leadership of Modi, the country has bought 36 Rafale fighter aircraft, 28 Apache helicopters, 15 Chinook helicopters, 145 ultra-light howitzers, 1.86 crore bulletproof jackets and five lakh AK-203 rifles,” he said.
Accusing the Congress of misleading the armed forces on the issue of OROP for decades, the BJP president said the government led by the party made a budgetary allocation of a paltry Rs 500 crore for OROP for the sake of appearances in 2013.
It was only after Modi became the prime minister in 2014 that efforts to implement OROP were started in right earnest, he said.
”He spent Rs 42,000 crore to implement OROP, from which 20.6 lakh soldiers in the country and 1.16 lakh in Uttarakhand benefitted,” the BJP leader said, adding that Modi is the only leader who stands with the armed forces personnel. Describing the Congress as a party that does not do anything without commission and the BJP as the party with a mission, Nadda said he knows that Sawad is a village of soldiers who know how to give a befitting reply to an adversary.
”Being capable of giving a befitting reply to those who deserve it is the hallmark of a living society,” he said and appealed to people to re-elect the party with a mission and keep the one running after commission out of power.
”Congress has harmed the country for years. It is steeped in corruption. It is an integral constituent of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government. Money is the only thing on which their interests converge,” Nadda said and asked people to keep the ”double engine” running.
The BJP chief also mentioned in detail how fast border infrastructure is being developed by the Modi government, saying six long tunnels have been made in the mountains and the work is underway on 14 more.
Citing how the government had eased up the movement of troops, he said through the Atal tunnel built in Himachal Pradesh, the journey to Ladakh that took a day and a half earlier can now be completed in 30 minutes.
Accompanied by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, Union Minister of State for Tourism and Defence Ajay Bhatt, Uttarakhand Soldiers Welfare Minister Ganesh Joshi and state BJP chief Madan Kaushik, Nadda later flagged off the ”Shaurya Rath”, which will collect soil from the homes of 1,734 soldiers of the state, who were killed in the line of duty, and bring it to Dehradun in urns, where they will be used in the construction of a Sainya Dham — a promise made by Modi.
Sawad in Chamoli district was chosen as the venue for flagging off the yatra because it is known as the village of soldiers who had fought in both the world wars, the India-China war in 1962, the India-Pakistan wars including the Kargil war and numerous anti-terrorist operations in different parts of the country.
The yatra, which will pass through the 13 districts and 70 blocks of the state, will go on till December 7. The families of the slain soldiers will also be honoured with copper plates.
Nadda said he considered himself fortunate to have come to Sawad and salute its valiant soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the nation. He praised Uttarakhand for being suffused with the spirit of patriotism.
An evidence of it is the fact that there are five lakh ex-servicemen in the state, while 1.15 lakh are currently serving in the armed forces, he added.
Nadda is on a two-day visit to poll-bound Uttarakhand during which he will visit Almora and Rudrapur, before leaving for Delhi on Tuesday evening.