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Congress wants to break Army’s morale, says Sitharaman

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Ahmedabad: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today attacked the Congress, saying the party regularly makes statements that seek to “break the Army’s morale and reduce its stature”.

She rued leaders of the Sonia Gandhi-led party often speak the language of separatists and support those who talk about dividing the nation.

Talking to reporters here, the minister also slammed the opposition party over the “chai-wala” meme directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying it has failed to learn from its past mistakes.

“Today, the Congress talks in separatists’ voice and enthusiastically joins them. The Congress vice president supports those misdirected youths of the JNU who talk about break-up of the country (desh ke tukde karenge),” she said.

“A senior Congress leader advocates autonomy (for Jammu & Kashmir) and says separatists talk about autonomy and not independence. He gives different definitions of ‘azadi’. When he was the home minister (in the Congress-led UPA government), he said the Army is against peace process,” she said, referring to reported statements of Congress leader P Chidambaram.

“A Congress leader (Sandeep Dikshit) likened the Army chief to a ‘goon on the street’. The Congress is always ready to break the morale of the Army and reduce the Army’s stature,” she said.

Sitharaman said Modi is needlessly targeted by the main opposition party. “Our prime minister, who works for the benefit of the country, was accused of ‘khoon ki dalali’ and described as a ‘chai-wala’ (tea seller).”

The Congress has damaged itself with such statements, Sitharaman, here to campaign for the BJP in the Gujarat assembly polls, said.

“Before every election, the Congress has the habit of inflicting damage to itself (by making statements against Modi),” the Union minister said.

She referred to Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s “chai-wala” remark and said his jibe against Modi ahead of the 2014 polls “changed the course of election”.

“Who had said Modiji, ‘I will offer you a stall to sell tea’?…The Congress is again daring to insult the prime minister with ‘tu chai bech (go sell tea) meme,” she said.

The Congress comes up with such select comments before every election and does not even learn from its mistakes, she said, adding the party did not even spare the Army.

“They (Congress leaders) said surgical strike was ‘khoon ki dalali’. The party should introspect before making such comments,” Sitharaman added, referring to the Army’s surgical strike on terrorist launchpads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

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