Campaigning in Palampur, the Himachal Pradesh hometown of Kargil martyr Vikram Batra, Narendra Modi borrowed his famous catch-phrase to ask for votes: “Yeh Dil Maange More!” At his next election rally in the state, he did that again.
Captain Batra’s family was not impressed. His mother, Kamal Kanta Batra, the Aam Aadmi Party candidate from neighboring Hamirpur, has accused the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate of being a “pseudo patriot” and has challenged him to a debate on the welfare of soldiers.
“Modi was in charge of the BJP in Himachal during the Kargil war. He was in Palampur when Vikram died. Why didn’t he visit us or any martyrs family then. Why remember us after 15 years?” she said.
Vikram Batra’s father said, “The BJP must not drag his name into politics.” The Batra family also challenged Mr Modi to withdraw the BJP’s candidate against the hero’s mother “if he feels so indebted to martyrs.”
In Delhi, the BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi argued, “It was a company’s slogan..it’s not their slogan…and isn’t she asking for votes as Vikram Batra’s mother?”
Captain Vikram Batra immortalised the words “Yeh dil maange more,” the catch-line from an ad campaign, in an interview to before he died fighting the 1999 Kargil war. He was 24.
In Palampur, Mr Modi said this morning, “I want your best wishes. I want to serve you. You’ve given them (Congress) 60 years. Can’t you give me 60 months? Yeh dil maange more! Give me 60 months.”
“Where will more Vikram Batras come from?” he asked, accusing the Congress of betraying India’s soldiers.
At the other rally he said, “Vikram Batra died for the country – he had said – yeh dil maange more. I say it too. I want all four seats in Himachal. I want 300 lotuses across India.”
In Hamirpur, known for its large concentration of ex-servicemen and serving soldiers, Mrs Batra’s BJP opponent is prominent MP Anurag Thakur, a former chief minister’s son. It’s the first election the 66-year-old school teacher is contesting.
Captain Batra was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest war-time gallantry award.