Prime Minister Narendra Modi being garlanded during an election campaign rally for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, in Ratlam. (PTI) 

Election 2019: Defence Deals Were ATM For Congress, Says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday accused the previous Congress governments of using defence deals as an automated teller machine for the party.

Addressing a rally in Himachal Pradesh's Solan district, Modi said, "India was dependent on foreign countries for 70 percent needs of the defence forces during the previous Congress governments. It had been deliberately done as defence deals were ATM for the Congress."

"India had a 150-year-long experience of defence production when it became independent in 1947, whereas China had no such experience at that time," Modi said. "But now, China has become an exporter of defence production, whereas we are an importer because of the bad policies of earlier Congress governments."

The prime minister said the Bharatiya Janata Party had tried to reverse it during the past five years, claiming that the defence production had been increased by 80 percent.

Pointing out to Congress leader Sam Pitroda's remarks on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, he said: "If you ask any question to the 'namdaar' (dynast) family, they say 'hua to hua' (whatever happened, has happened)."

Also read: Election 2019: Opposition Victory Possible Through Sacrifice And Compromise, Says Sam Pitroda

Modi accused the United Progressive Alliance (dispensation of delaying the purchase of bullet-proof jackets for six years, which, he said, endangered the lives of the soldiers.

The prime minister urged first-time voters to vote for ensuring development of the country in the 21st century. He claimed that had the UPA government maintained the growth rate achieved during former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's term, then it would have been much higher now.

On Ayushman Bharat, Modi said the number of beneficiaries from the health protection scheme was more than the total population of the U.S., Canada and Mexico. "As many as 50 crore Indians are provided free medical facilities up to Rs 5 lakh per annum under Ayushman Yojana," he said.

He also praised Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur for "exemplary implementation" of the PM-Kisan scheme.

Modi recalled the days when he was in charge of the state for the BJP, saying he used to stroll on the Mall Road in Solan and take 'chana' (chickpea) from vendors.

Solan falls in the Shimla parliamentary constituency, where the BJP has fielded Suresh Kashyap, while Solan MLA Dhani Ram Shandil is contesting on a Congress ticket.

The four seats of the state will go to the polls in the last phase of the Lok Sabha election on Sunday.

Also read: Modi May Win 2019 But Rahul Gandhi, Too, Has Come of Age As A Neta