Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the “mockery” of the Vande Bharat Express by Opposition leaders was an “insult” to engineers and technicians who were involved in the project, PTI reported. He said it was unfortunate that some people were “targeting and mocking” the semi-high speed train.

India’s fastest train had broken down during its first return journey from Varanasi on Saturday, a day after Modi flagged it off from New Delhi. Congress President Rahul Gandhi was among those leaders who had criticised the government after the incident.

“The way some people are targeting the train, making fun of it, is very sad,” Modi said. “People write to me telling me that these comments are an insult to engineers and technicians involved in the project. People should remain alert against such persons.”

“Is it appropriate to make fun of technicians and engineers who work day and night for the country?” he asked the audience. “Should those who mock in this way be spared? Should they not receive the right punishment at the right time?”

Modi asked people not to get “demoralised by those surrounded by negativity”. “I tell all engineers and technicians of Chennai Rail Coach Factory that India is proud of you,” he said. “I salute engineering professionals, who will in future make a bullet train in India and run it successfully too.”

During his speech, Modi also urged people to end caste discrimination and invoked Sant Ravidas, a Bhakti poet, on his birth anniversary.

“Irrespective of caste, creed and other factors, all should get benefit of government schemes,” Modi said after laying the foundation stone of Ravidas Janmasthali (birthplace) area development project in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Varanasi is Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency. This was Modi’s second visit to his constituency within a month.

“Guruji [Sant Ravidas] had said that there should be no discrimination on the basis of caste,” Modi said. “Till caste discrimination is there, people cannot connect with each other, social harmony is not possible and equality cannot be ensured.” Modi said caste discrimination is an impediment in achieving social harmony.

Modi said the central government has been following Ravidas’s tenet over the past four years with “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas”.

Modi also urged people to identify those who practise caste discrimination and promote it for their self interest. “Unfortunately, caste discrimination could not be removed till now,” the prime minister said. “The New India will witness this change with help of the youth.”

Modi said his government focussed on the panchadharma – five duties – by working on education, medicine, irrigations, public grievances and income. He claimed his government ensured action against benami properties and circulation of black money.

“‘Chalta hai’ [it’s alright] mentality had crept in people, my government tried to change it,” he said. Modi also inaugurated several development projects in Varanasi.