MUMBAI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday slammed Opposition leaders seeking a link between the abrogation of Article 370 and the Maharashtra Assembly polls, and told them to go drown (doob maro) for their stance.

Modi made the acerbic remarks in Akola district of Vidarbha region during a campaign rally for the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly elections. “How can they (Opposition) say that Jammu and Kashmir has nothing to do with Maharashtra? They should be ashamed of such thoughts. Don’t they have any shame? Doob maro,” he said, using the two-word phrase in Hindi.

Modi lambasted the Congress and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who had accused the ruling BJP of “diverting attention from its failures by harping on Article 370 abrogation.” “A shameless Opposition is asking what is the connection between Article 370 and Maharashtra. We are proud of the children of Maharashtra who sacrificed everything for Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Modi said he was shocked that such voices are being raised for political gains in the land of Shivaji Maharaj. Pawar had said on Tuesday that the BJP does not have anything concrete to show and so was harping on abrogation of Article 370. “If you question them about farmers’ suicides, unemployment, closure of industries, the BJP responds with Article 370,” the NCP leader had said.

Modi, who also addressed poll rallies in Jalna and Raigad districts later, said the Congress now is not the same party that fought for Independence. “They (Congress) party is taking its last breath. It sees ‘Rashtra bhakti’ (nationalism) in ‘Parivar bhakti’ (devotion to a family),” he said without taking any names.

“The Congress, which is taking its last breath, sees nationalism in devotion to a family,” Modi said.

Modi said Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar’s “sanskar” (values) are the basis for nation-building and rued that Babasaheb Ambedkar was denied the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.

“It is due to Savarkar’s ‘sanskar’ that we put nationalism as the basis for nation-building,” Modi said. His remarks came a day after BJP’s Maharashtra unit sought Bharat Ratna for Savarkar in its poll manifesto. Modi said the Marathwada region in Maharashtra gave three chief ministers to the state, but the area is still backward in terms of development.

Referring to the NCP’s ‘clock’ symbol showing the time at 10 minutes past 10, Modi said the Pawar-led party and the Congress will win 10 seats each in polls for the 288- member Assembly.

Without naming NCP leader Praful Patel, Modi said business interests of some leaders with those involved in anti-national activities are being unearthed. “These leaders were scared, they knew trouble is brewing for them so they started maligning the investigating agencies,” he added.

The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Patel on Friday in connection with its money laundering probe linked to alleged illegal assets in Mumbai of gangster Iqbal Mirchi. Earlier, government funds used to go into the “pockets of middlemen”, but now the money is going directly to the bank accounts of farmers, he said.

Modi described himself and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as the “double engine” of development for Maharashtra and sought a second term for the incumbent leader in the BJP- ruled state. Endorsing the leadership of Fadnavis, the first BJP chief minister of Maharashtra who is seeking a second term, the PM said he is playing a vital role in the state’s growth.

“Both Devendra and Narendra are the double engine for development of Maharashtra,” he said. He said the coastal Konkan belt was emerging as the main pillar for the economy of a “new Maharashtra” with a slew of ongoing infrastructure projects, including the Navi Mumbai airport, Mumbai Trans Harbour Link and metro rail. The upcoming modern infrastructure projects will provide new facilities to the fast-urbanising coastal region that is one of the big pillars of the economy of New India, he said.

The towns of Panvel, Kalyan-Dombivali, Belapur-Airoli and Thane, all parts of the Konkan region, are emerging as the new hubs of economic activities, he said and described the Kharghar-Panvel belt in Raigad district as a cosmopolitan region representing a “mini India”. PTI