The Congress's attack came as BJP fanned senior leaders across the country to hold ‘Mahamrityunjay Jap’ for the long life of Modi

As the BJP took the ‘prayer’ route to cash in on the security breach of the Prime Minister convoy, the Congress on Thursday accused Narendra Modi of lowering India’s image and insulting Punjab and ‘Punjabiyat’ by suggesting that his life was in danger in the poll-bound state.

“You went to Pakistan suddenly. You feel safe there. Because of the hatred you have for your own people, you are defaming the whole region…You cannot demonise, insult Punjab and Punjabiyat,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera told a press conference.

Taking exception to Modi’s purported comments to officials to thank their Chief Minister for him reaching Bhatinda airport alive, Khera said, “Modi is not just BJP’s Prime Minister but the whole country’s. People of Punjab know the value of their Prime Minister’s life…The bravehearts, who sacrificed their lives, have been wrapped in tricolour more than the number of times the BJP-RSS waved the tricolor.”

The Congress's attack came as BJP fanned senior leaders across the country to hold ‘Mahamrityunjay Jap’ for the long life of Modi, who was stuck on a fly-over in Punjab following a security breach due to farmers blocking a road. Several BJP leaders like External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who tweeted a Sanskrit verse with a hashtag #ModiJiJiyoHazaroSaal (1,000 years for Modi), took to social media as part of a campaign.

As the BJP sought to put the Congress in a spot over the security breach in party-ruled Punjab, Khera said India was not a banana republic and no one should dent the morale of security forces.

He said the Prime Minister could have waited for 15 minutes to allow the Punjab Police to clear the protesters from the road but he instead chose to defame Punjab. He said Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had on such occasions engaged with protesters but Modi “hates questions, protesters, Opposition and accountability”.

He referred to a few incidents in which Modi faced protests during his visits and getting stuck in traffic jams. He said Modi never made comments like the one he did in Bhatinda airport when girl students of Banaras Hindu University protested during his visit to Varanasi in September 2018 or when his cavalcade had taken a wrong route in December 2017 in Uttar Pradesh.

Highlighting an incident in which Modi got stuck in Delhi traffic, Khera said the BJP had then celebrated it as ending the VIP culture. “Modi did not say thank you Chief Minister then,” he said.

Recalling the 2017 Gujarat poll campaign, he said Modi had accused former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Vice President Hamid Ansari and former Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, among others of conspiring with Pakistan.

“Late Arun Jaitley had to express regret in Parliament for this. When the polls are around, just see how some people lower the standards,” he said.