Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has been anointed as Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate, on Sunday said that politicians need to learn take lessons in secularism from the Indian army.
Modi, who was speaking at a rally largely of ex-serviceman here, said: “Vote bank politics in India has become disgusting. If politicians have to learn secularism, look at the Indian Army. There is no greater example of Indian secularism.
He further criticised the Congress-led UPA Government over its handling of security issues like incursions by China, the killing of Indian jawans at the border and repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan, and said that the problem is not at the border but with the Centre. “Are our neighbours troubling us because our Army is weak? No. The problem is not at our borders but it is in Delhi. Till we have a capable government in Delhi, which is nationalistic and committed to protecting every citizen, we cannot guarantee security,” he said.
Modi also brought up issue like Defense Minister AK Antony’s statement in Parliament over the killing of Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) and certain insensitive remarks made by members of certain political parties, and said that they should not insult the martyrs who died for the nation. “And unfortunately, our Defence Minister said in Parliament there were some people in Pakistani Army uniforms…how painful that must be for the thousands of Indians? But the government in Delhi doesn't seem to care. And it is shameful that a member of a political party says people join the army to die. If you cannot weep for the martyrs don't, but do not insult the memory of the soldiers who died for the country,” he added.
He also raised the issue of terrorism and Maoist violence. “There should be a global consensus on tackling terrorism, Maoists and that is not difficult if India has capable leadership. You cannot selectively deal with terrorism. All humanist forces should come together for world peace and progress in the developing world,” he said.
Speaking on the issue of tension between India and Pakistan, Modi said in a message to the neighbouring country that weapons and wars have done no good to the country in 60 years. “Pakistan has a newly elected government; there was hope that they would try and improve relations. But the way our soldiers were killed shows their intentions are not good,” he said. “To Pakistan's rulers I say, fight against poverty. Weapons and warfare have done you no good in 60 years. Try not allowing terrorists to use your territory for 10 years and you'll see your progress will be manifold,” he added.
He also questioned the policy to import weapons for the defence forces and said that India should dream of making and exporting weapons to other countries. “Most of the budget of the Army goes towards importing cheap munitions. We are a country of 1.2 billion with the capability of launching its own missiles, but we import the smallest of things. We should dream that we would have the capability of developing our defense industries and become exporters,” he said.
He laid emphasis on the need for educated youth to join the Army, and added that the soldiers need to be trained in latest technology in order to spruce up their combating skills. Modi also promised that he would demand a white paper from the Centre on "one rank, one pension," a key demand of ex-servicemen.
Modi was on Friday anointed as BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections.