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Did Congress run government or durbar of Michel Mama, asks PM Modi

Jan 5 (AZINS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday lambasted the Congress accusing it of "playing" with national security and working at the behest of middlemen in the defence sector instead of running a government for the people during the UPA rule.

"I cannot understand whether Congress was running a government or the durbar of its own (Christian) Michel mama," Modi said at a BJP rally here, referring to the middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, Christian Michel who has recently brought to India from Dubai.

He was addressing the rally after unveiling a slew of projects worth over Rs 4500 crore in different sectors including highways, railways, culture and passport services ahead of the general elections.This was Modi's second visit in less than a fortnight to Odisha, where assembly elections are also slated to be held along with Lok Sabha polls.

Mounting a scathing attack on Congress, Modi alleged that there was a conspiracy to weaken the country's defence forces in 2004-2014 (the period of UPA rule) and the revelation of facts was now "paining" its leaders."Therefore, they want to remove the chowkidar (watchman) from their path at any cost. Be it the society or factories, thieves always conspire to remove the chowkidar to make their task easy. As long as the chowkidar remains, they are unable to operate," Modi said apparently slamming Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his "chowkidar" barb at him.

"This also pains them because their secrecy is now coming to the fore," Modi said adding there were reports that a letter of the middleman Michel had revealed that he had close ties with top Congress leaders and ministers.The middleman was aware of the ever movement of files in the PMO and even the details of deliberations of the Cabinet Committee on Defence. He was also passing on crucial information related to defence, security and weapons procurement abroad, the prime minister said.

"Perhaps middlemen had more information than the then prime minister himself," he said and asserted that a thorough probe would be conducted into these matters."I want to make it clear that the role of people in protecting the interest of middlemen at the cost of the country will be thoroughly probed," he said.

Stating that the BJP government at the Centre has always taken hard decisions for the country's security, he asked the crowd whether the Congress should be allowed to do what it was doing during the UPA rule."Those who had done injustice towards the armed forces should be booked ... I want to assure you that law will not allow anyone to go scot-free."

Hitting out at the Congress for raking up the Rafale deal, Modi praised Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for her skillful response in Lok Sabha on Friday when the issue was raised by opposition parties."I congratulate the country's first woman defence minister for showing people the real face of those who deceive the country, those who compromise national security for politics and those who insult the sacred Parliament with their immaturity", he said.

Continuing with the stinging attack, Modi said "The leader of the country's oldest political party (Rahul Gandhi) has accused me of dividing the people of India by chanting 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'.He cited the instance of the newly formed Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, which after coming to power in the recent election had discontinued the national song 'Vande Mataram' triggering a storm."Now they are looking for a way out," the prime minister said adding that the state government had also attempted to scrap pension for those who were jailed during Emergency.

"This is an assault on democracy", he said.Listing the achievements of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, Modi said total immunisation of women and children, which had hitherto remained a distant dream has been fully achieved during the last four-and-a-half years.The government has taken concrete steps for empowerment of women, who are now doing "excellent work" in air force and navy.

Modi said six crore women belonging to all sections and categories have been provided with LPG connection under Ujjwala scheme of the Centre in the last 32 months. "All the welfare schemes are being implemented in a balanced way to beneft all".

Earlier, the prime minister unveiled a digital plaque to mark the commencement of work for conservation and development of Rasika Ray Temple, and the excavated structure at the ancient fort of Haripurgarh.He laid the foundation stone for three national highway projects, dedicated to the nation the Balasore-Haldia-Durgapur LPG pipeline of IOCL and inaugurated the multi modal logistic park at Balasore and six passport sewa kendras.

He also flagged off the second passenger train from Tatanagar to Badampahar.Modi told the gathering that the total worth of projects inaugurated is more than Rs 4000 crore.The Centre is focusing on infrastructure development, which will make a fundamental difference in the lives of the common man. Unprecedented investment is being made in the creation of modern infrastructure and connectivity in the country and emphasis is on road, rail and air connectivity.

The maximum benefit of enhanced infrastructure will be for the middle class and the medium enterprises of the country. Modern roads, clean trains and economical air travel, all contribute to ease of living for the middle class.