Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in Lok Sabha on Monday, "What did Congress leaders do? They stood at railway stations in Mumbai and distributed free tickets to encourage them to leave Mumbai. They inspired people to leave so that the burden over Maharashtra could be lessened. You go to Uttar Pradesh, you go to Bihar. Go, spread Corona there. You committed this sin and created an atmosphere of chaos".
Congress on Tuesday demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "insulting" Maharashtra by suggesting that the state had encouraged the spread of COVID-19 in other states. Speaking to reporters, Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole also said that the opposition party will stage protests outside BJP offices in the state on Wednesday demanding an apology from the prime minister.
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"Speaking in Lok Sabha on Monday, PM Modi insulted Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's Maharashtra by accusing the 12 crore people of the state of spreading COVID-19. PM Modi should apologise for his remarks," Patole told reporters.
Modi had said in Lok Sabha on Monday, "What did Congress leaders do? They stood at railway stations in Mumbai and distributed free tickets to encourage them to leave Mumbai. They inspired people to leave so that the burden over Maharashtra could be lessened. You go to Uttar Pradesh, you go to Bihar. Go, spread Corona there. You committed this sin and created an atmosphere of chaos".
NCP leader Supriya Sule also expressed surprise over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's suggestion and wondered why he "harboured such hatred" for the state that had a lion's share in his election to the top executive post. "I wonder what delight does the prime minister get in criticising Maharashtra repeatedly, shifting key projects out of the state and undermining the importance of Mumbai. It is unfortunate," Sule told reporters here.
"Maharashtra has never bowed before the authority of Delhi and will never do so," the Lok Sabha member from Baramati said. Sule said the claims made by the prime minister against Maharashtra during his reply to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address lacked any scientific basis.
She added that it was the Centre that operated special trains to ferry migrant labourers to their respective homes. "The then Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had talked about operating 125 special trains in March 2020, Devendra Fadnavis has thanked the Centre for operating special trains to ferry migrant labourers to Uttar Pradesh," she said.
She said that BJP member Harish Dwivedi, who initiated the debate in the Lok Sabha, also credited the Centre for running special trains. Sule, citing Railway Ministry documents, said the largest number of Shramik Special trains -- 1033 -- were operated from Gujarat, followed by Maharashtra (817) and Punjab (429).
Patole further said that PM Modi had organised 'Namaste Trump' event in Gujarat "and became the super-spreader of COVID-19".
In February 2020, the then US President Donald Trump had visited India and also addressed a public gathering at a stadium in Ahmedabad as part of the 'Namaste Trump' event. "Had BJP leaders from Maharashtra been proud of the state they would have condemned the PM's remarks about the state. If they do not condemn these remarks these leaders will be known as 'Maharashtra Drohi' (traitors) in the history of the state," Patole added.
Narendra Modi seems to have forgotten that he is the Prime Minister of the country. He has become a "BJP campaigner", Patole said.
First Published: IST