Ratcheting up poll pressure on the 10th anniversary of India's worst terror strike, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday took a broad swipe at the Congress for being in power during the Mumbai attack and for questioning his government's surgical strike in Pakistan.
On an emotive day of remembrance for the families and colleagues of those killed, the prime minister stepped up the tempo as he referred to then Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi as "madam" who ruled the country at the time.
"Delhi was ruled by madam... the world was shaken but the Congress was playing how-to-win-the-election game," Modi said referring to Sonia Gandhi, who was widely believed to be the power behind then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"I remember the slightest criticism over the attacks used to rile the then ruling party," Modi said while hitting out at the Congress over its handling of terrorism and Naxalism. He was addressing an election rally here on the anniversary of the 60-hour terror siege by 10 Pakistani terrorists who sneaked into Mumbai on November 26, 2008, killing 166 people in a rampage spread over several locations
The Congress retaliated by alleging Modi was playing politics on the issue of national security and had "compromised" national interest.
Though Modi addressed three election rallies in Rajasthan, which goes to the polls on December 7, he focused on the 26/11 attack only in the textile town of Bhilwara.
He said India will never forget the 26/11 attack or its perpetrators and justice will surely be done.
"India will never forget 26/11 or its perpetrators. We are looking for an opportunity. The law will take its own course, I assure the people of the country once again," Modi said while expressing solidarity with the families of those who lost their lives.
A grateful nation, he said, bows to its brave police and security forces who valiantly fought the terrorists during the Mumbai attacks.
Continuing his anti-Congress offensive, Modi said the party preached patriotism. But when the Army carried out a surgical strike by crossing over the border, the party questioned it and asked for video proof.
"When my country's soldiers did surgical strikes in Pakistan, and settled the account with terrorists ... and their dead bodies were being hauled away in trucks...
"When the country's soldiers did such a big thing, when they struck the enemy in his own home, wasn't every Indian proud or not? Was this not an example of patriotism? ... Was this not a saga of bravery?
"But in such a time the Congress raised a question -- show the video whether surgical strike happened or not. When the country's soldier goes with his life in his fist, will he be carrying a video camera?" Modi asked. "At that time did they not remember patriotism?"
He said during Congress rule, there were bomb blasts every day in all corners of india, and cited Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ajmer, Delhi, Ayodhya and Jammu. "But we have fought such a battle against terrorism that they are finding it difficult to come out of Kashmir," he said.
The prime minister said his government has responded to Naxals also in their own language.
On the one hand, there is terrorism and, on the other, Maoism and Naxalism. They are giving guns in the hands of children and killing innocent people but Congress leaders and close aides of 'naamdaar' are calling Naxals revolutionaries and giving them certificates, he said.
Modi has frequently referred to Congress president Rahul Gandhi as "naamdar" (dynast).
In New Delhi, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused the BJP of politicising the sacrifice of jawans, saying the lack of political action on its part has led to disquiet at the border and an alarming security situation.
"Politicizing of national security and sacrifice of our jawans is intrinsic to BJP.
"The truth is - Modi Government has compromised our national security and in the last four and a half years. Lack of political action and policy has led to a disquiet border and an alarming internal security situation," he said in a statement.
Training his guns on the prime minister, Surjewala alleged that he was the one person who played "despicable politics" during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.
"Even as our soldiers fought inside and the nation was united in battling its consequences, the then CM of Gujarat, was standing outside at one of the attack sites, addressing the media and blaming the then UPA Government for the attack," he alleged.
According to Surjewala, the BJP released blood-stained ads in newspapers for Delhi elections, opportunistically politicizing the sacrifice of our soldiers.
"Today in a public rally in Bhilwara, Rajasthan; PM Modi turned history on its head and said that he never played politics on national security. We condemn and reject the utter falsehood the PM Modi's politicizing of national security and sacrifice of our jawans is intrinsic to BJP," he said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)