Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday hit back at the Opposition, which had accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of diverting people’s attention from real problems. This came on the day Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar claimed the saffron party was raking up Article 370 repeatedly instead of focusing on problems like unemployment, farmers’ troubles, and failing industries.

“A shameless opposition is asking what is the connection between Article 370 and Maharashtra,” Modi said at a rally in Akola, Maharashtra. “We are proud of the children of Maharashtra who sacrificed everything for Jammu and Kashmir. But today, for their political gains, these people who are steeped in their family are asking what has Maharashtra got to do with Jammu and Kashmir? Doob maro! Doob maro! [Drown in shame].”

Maharashtra Assembly elections are scheduled for October 21 and the results will be declared on October 24.

The prime minister said he was shocked that such remarks were being made in the land of Shivaji. He said that people in Maharashtra were happy that Article 370, which provided Jammu and Kashmir its special constitutional status until its revocation in August, had been removed. “But these people [the Opposition] are crestfallen...they are in pain. As if something they fed and nurtured is gone,” he said. “The Article 370 they nurtured has been laid at the feet of citizens.”

The prime minister also targeted NCP leaders over alleged underworld connections. “The new revelations indicate why offenders of bomb blast cases escaped from the country,” he said, without naming anyone, according to Hindustan Times.

“You remember bomb blasts in Maharashtra targeting trains, buses and other establishments,” he added. “The masterminds of the crime also escaped to an enemy country. As we all want to know how they escaped, the new revelations are clearing the picture. Who all had, what kind of business relations with them.”

On Tuesday, the Enforcement Directorate had summoned NCP leader and former Aviation Minister Praful Patel in connection with an alleged land deal he struck with gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s close aide Iqbal Mirchi. The investigation agency has asked Patel to appear for questioning on October 18. However, Patel has denied he has been summoned.

Mirchi, who died in 2013, was an accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts in which more than 300 people were killed.

Modi praised Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and said that he inspired nationalism, which the prime minister said was at the core of building a nation. He said these members of the Opposition also insulted Veer Savarkar. “These are those who insulted Baba Saheb (Bhimrao Ambedkar) step by step, keeping him away from Bharat Ratna for decades,” Modi claimed.

In its election manifesto, released on Tuesday, the BJP promised that Savarkar would be awarded the Bharat Ratna if the Devendra Fadnavis government was voted back to power. “This is the first time the BJP has officially acknowledged the recommendation,” Fadnavis said.

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