New Delhi, Feb 25 : In the poll season and amid full blown war with opposition leaders targeting Prime Minister over Pulwama attack and denying 'shaaheed' status to martyred paramilitary soldiers, Narendra Modi on Monday hit out at the Gandhi-Nehru family for putting themselves ahead of the nation.
Speaking in presence of an overwhelming number of ex-servicemen, relatives of war heroes, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and top military officers, Prime Minister singled out Congress leadership yet again and said - "Yehi log puri taqat laga rahen haen ki Bharat mein Rafale bima pahuch hi na paye (These are the same people, who also want to stall the very process of acquisition of Rafale combat jet for Indian forces)".
"From schools to hospitals. Highway to airports and stadium to awards, one finds only names of one family members. The answer to this puzzle lay with those who believe in Family First and not India First".
He also said it speaks a lot about the character of the same party and the leaders who indulged in corruption in the name of defence requirements and procurement.
"From Bofors to Helicopter deal, all the investigations are pointing to one family, it speaks a lot and clearly. Ironically, these people who want to describe themselves as decision makers of fortunes of people are putting out all efforts to make sure that Rafale aircraft do not arrive in the country," he said amid thundering applause from the gathering.
The blistering attack against Congress especially came on a day, the grand old party and its chief Rahul Gandhi said all out efforts ought to be made to "recognise" the sacrifices of paramilitary forces, like the CRPF and they be given the title of 'Shaheed'.
"Even if the PM's ego will not allow him to act on my request, I hope he will act on the Supreme Court's order for better pay to the Paramilitary," Mr Gandhi tweeted.
The political slug fest between key political leaders have only intensified lately as the Election Commission sources have indicated that announcement of poll schedule for parliamentary polls may be made by the beginning of second week of March.
In what is seen as an attempt to appropriate their respective concerns for armed forces and security personnel, other leaders too are lagging behind.
In Kolkata, addressing a core committee meeting of Trinamool Congress, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed BJP-led dispensation was trying to create a 'war hysteria' and playing "politics over dead bodies of jawans" vis-a-vis the Pulwama terror attack.
Senior Marxist leader and CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury also took to the micro blogging site and wrote - "PR photo shoots with multiple cameras only rub salt into the wounds of those suffering historical injustices".
"It is just not Kashmir. The North-East is in immense turmoil. But Modi is busy shooting PR films in a Forest resort or mouthing inane film dialogues," tweeted Mr Yechury, whose party is expected to play the most critical role in post-poll alliance making in the event of a hung Lok Sabha.
The poll panel will be visiting militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir on March 4 and 5 and may take a final call on conducting state assembly polls in the state simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls or after it.
The President's Rule in the northern state will end on June 20 and thus polls need to be held unless government decides to extend the tenure of the central rule.
In his speech at the inauguration of country's first War Memorial - honouring all martyred soldiers since Independence in different conflicts with China and Pakistan, Mr Modi slammed the erstwhile Congress-led UPA regime for 'depriving' Indian soldiers even the much needed bullet proof jackets.
He accused that neglecting the national interests and ignoring the safety and security issues of the armed forces personnel, the Manmohan Singh government did nothing to procure 1.86 lakh bullet proof jackets as was demanded by the forces.
The demand was placed in 2009 but nothing moved till 2014. "Today, it was left with our government to procure 2.3 lakh bullet proof jackets for our brave soldiers," Mr Modi said.
"Kuch logon ke liye desh se bara apna parivar hae (For some people, it appears, the family came first and foremost and not the country)," he told the gathering.
"Modi rahe ya, na rahen parantu desh ke crore logon ka tyag....(It is immaterial whether Modi remains around or not, but it is always important that the sacrifices of the countrymen and women and the stories of their valiant services at the altar of the nation must be always upheld)," Mr Modi said.
He said it is pertinent to ask this question today - why the sacrifices of armed men and women and common citizens were made to appear so 'negligible'.
"Why such an injustice was done to those who sacrificed a lot and everything for the country," the Prime Minister said.
Built at an estimated cost of Rs 171 crore, the memorial has a 15.5 metre tall tower, with an eternal flame and 16 circular walls of honour on which names of 25,942 martyrs have been written in gold on granite walls, sources said.
The pattern of the walls symbolises, "Chakravyuh", the ancient Indian war formation.