The sacrifices of soldiers and nationalism are key election issues, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday. In a joint interview to DD News and Rajya Sabha TV, Modi asked: “In a country where thousands of its soldiers have been martyred, shouldn’t that be an election issue? If farmers die, then it is an election issue, but when soldiers die then it is not an election issue?”

The Opposition has often criticised Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party for using the defence forces in their campaign speeches to influence voters. On April 9 during a rally in Maharashtra’s Latur city, he urged first-time voters to dedicate their votes to the defence forces in the wake of the Pulwama attack and the Balakot air strike. Modi asked how a country can progress without nationalism. “If we don’t tell them what our views are on this, then what is the logic in that?” he asked.

Modi said Congress President Rahul Gandhi was alleging a scam in the Rafale jet deal to “wash the sins of his father”. Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had faced investigations in the Bofors scandal. “For the past six months, he [Rahul Gandhi] has been making it an issue without any proof,” the prime minister claimed.

Modi accused the United Progressive Alliance government of ignoring the farmers. “UPA cheated farmers and pushed them to commit suicide,” he said. Modi claimed that the NDA government has changed the “outdated ways” of helping the farmers. The prime minister added that in the past five years his government has addressed the basic requirements of the people that should have been fulfilled within the first 10 to 20 years of Independence.

Modi said his comments against the Gandhi family were against dynastic politics. “Dynastic politics is the most dangerous thing for a democracy,” he added. Regarding the Congress’ proposed minimum income guarantee scheme, Modi said that the announcement of the scheme shows the Congress has accepted that they have done “great injustice” to the people for the past 60 years. “Will they give nyay (justice)?” he asked, referring to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Modi brushed aside any impact of the alliance between Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh. He said people have already seen the results of SP-Congress alliance during the previous Assembly elections. In 2017, the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance won 54 seats while the BJP bagged 312 in the 403-seat Assembly. The state has 80 Lok Sabha seats.

Talking about the BJP’s chances in the ongoing elections, Modi said there was an “unprecedented wave of support” for his party. “I have not seen this even in 2014,” he added.

He criticised former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for seeking a separate prime minister for the state. “They [Nationalist Conference and Peoples Democratic People] have used the same language always, they have done emotional blackmail…now they have become outdated and people are not ready to recognise them as leaders,” Modi said.

Modi said that India has now made its place in the world. “Earlier we were only spectators, now we are players.” He said when asked about the country’s relations with foreign nations.