PM Modi had asked first-time voters to “dedicate their votes” to the Indian Air Force pilots (File Photo)
Nationalism and the sacrifice of soldiers are as much an election issue as the death of farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Monday, rejecting opposition criticism that he was using the defence forces in his campaign speeches for influencing voters. “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? How can that be?” PM Modi said in an interview to national broadcaster Doordarshan.
“If we don’t tell them what our views are on this, then what is the logic in that? …Can any country move ahead without the feeling of nationalism?” the Prime Minister said, branding those criticising his government “hyper-secular”.
Last week, PM Modi campaigned for the BJP and asked first-time voters to “dedicate their votes” to the Indian Air Force pilots who carried out the air strike on a terrorist camp in Pakistan’s Balakot and the security personnel killed in the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama in February.
The comments triggered a furore with opposition parties accusing the prime minister of using the defence forces for influencing voters.
The Election Commission took notice and the remarks are currently under examination. The poll authorities in Maharashtra’s Latur, where he made the speech, have told the…