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Modi remembering chowkidars after forgetting chaiwalas: Sibal




Prime Minister Narendra Modi has forgotten about his bonhomie with “chaiwalas”, is now remembering “chowkidars”, and will focus on somebody else the “next time” for political gains, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal has said, taking a swipe at the PM’s ‘main bhi chowkidar’ campaign.

The former Union minister also accused Modi of politicising the Balakot air strikes and asked whether the ‘chowkidar’ (watchman) was sleeping when terror attacks took place in Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Uri, Baramulla, and Pulwama.

On the Prime Minister’s ‘main bhi chowkidar’ campaign to counter the Congress’ ‘chowkidar chor hai’ barb, Sibal said, “First of all he has forgotten about the chaiwalas (tea sellers). He now remembers the chowkidars (watchmen). Next time he will remember somebody else and forget the chowkidars.”

“The sad part of it is that he was sleeping while we were attacked at Gurdaspur, at Pathankot, at Uri, at Baramulla, at Pulwama. What was the chowkidar doing, was he sleeping. What happened to the slogan ‘main bhi chowkidar’ at that point in time,” the 70-year-old Rajya Sabha MP told PTI in an exclusive interview.

In the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP launched a massive election campaign highlighting Modi as a ‘chaiwala’ (tea-seller) to connect with the masses after Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar dubbed him a ‘chaiwala’. Since then, Modi has often called himself a chaiwala.

The PM launched the ‘mai bhi chowkidar’ campaign after Congress president Rahul Gandhi relentlessly targeted the PM with the “chowkidar chor hai” (watchman is a thief) jibe, while alleging corruption and favouritism in the Rafale fighter jet deal. The government rejected the charges. Sibal also accused the BJP of trying to gain political mileage from the Balakot strikes.

“They (the BJP) were the first ones to politicise it (air strikes) by making public statements. He (Modi) has posters of the martyrs behind him as he is making his speeches. He is alluding to the air strikes by saying that the mood of the crowd is now different,” Sibal said.

The former Union minister alleged all this shows that the government is least concerned about issues relating to life of the ordinary man such as farm distress, education, health, hunger, loss of credit facilities, and “destruction” of businesses.

Sibal slammed the prime minister for his ‘chowkidar campaign’ and asked what was the ‘chowkidar’ doing when the likes of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi fled the country.

“What was the chowkidar doing when people were losing lives post the air strikes, soldiers have lost their lives (at the border). Is this chowkidari of his residence or what is it, or of his privileges,” Sibal asked.

On whether the focus has moved away from issues of jobs and government’s alleged economic non-performance following the Balakot air strikes, Sibal said there was an attempt to do so.

“The whole nature of the discourse is now about what a great job this government has done post Pulwama, and this is a new threshold — we have shown to Pakistan that we are capable of air strikes across the border if they continue with their efforts to destabilise India through terrorist attacks,” he said.

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