The Congress on Sunday demanded a seizure of all Rafale-related documents to establish the truth behind the deal, alleging Prime Minister Narendra Modi alone knew the facts and had hidden them from other ministers and officials.
“In the face of new revelations, there is no doubt that the Prime Minister has got rattled. But he is not answering specific questions regarding the price of the Rafale jets and offset contracts, and how and at what stage the public-sector HAL was ousted,” Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said.
“Our demand is that all related files be seized and forensic audit of the tender documents be done,” he added, asking that a joint parliamentary committee be allowed to examine these documents.
The Congress alleges that Modi had pressured the French to give the Rafale offset contract to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence, bypassing HAL, while keeping the defence and foreign ministries in the dark.
Sharma said the Prime Minister’s state visits have “a fixed agenda with joint statements discussed in advance and the draft exchanged before the start of the tour”.
So, he asked, “when the foreign secretary says two days before (Modi’s) visit (to France in April 2015) that Rafale is not on the agenda (and) confirms ongoing negotiations with HAL, how come the decision to purchase 36 aircraft is taken?”
“It is important to see whether the draft exchanged with the French government mentioned the plan to purchase 36 fighter jets instead of the (UPA) negotiated 108 aircraft. The foreign secretary’s statement is clear (that) it was not mentioned,” Sharma said.
“Dassault chief Eric Trappier too confirmed HAL as the partner but suddenly Ambani comes in. We have said the Prime Minister will have to explain this. Or the documents will bear the truth out. The Prime Minister alone is responsible as the entire administration was kept in the dark.”
Sharma echoed Rahul Gandhi’s allegation that defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to France last week was a cover-up mission, necessitated by reports quoting former French President Francois Hollande as saying the Indian government had proposed Reliance as the offset partner.
“Hence, the defence minister has gone there to manage the crisis created by former President Francois Hollande, who spoke the truth on the offset contract. Otherwise, what is the reason for the visit now?”
Sharma also accused Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley of misleading the country on the state of the economy, arguing that most of the indicators pointed to a grim reality and that even the foreign exchange reserves were falling.
He said an outflow of $30 billion (Rs 2.2 lakh crore) had been reported, around Rs 84,000 crore of it in the first quarter of this financial year.
“How can the fastest growing economy have the worst performing currency in Asia?” Sharma said.
“We are pained at the plight of the rupee; the market is in turmoil; the credit offtake is at its lowest; the current account deficit is rising. All these are the outcome of gross mismanagement and disastrous decisions like the demonetisation.”
Sharma recalled how exports had been booming under UPA rule. “Exports were growing at 18 per cent when we left office. By that yardstick, the exports should have stood at $500 billion today,” he said.
“It was $320 billion in May 2014 when we left and it is barely $300 billion today. The loss of $200 billion, which is huge, is seriously affecting job growth.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been awarded with the UN’s highest environmental honour, bestowed upon five other individuals and organisations, for his leadership of the International Solar Alliance and pledge to eliminate single use plastic in India by 2022.
Six of the world’s most outstanding environmental changemakers have been recognised with the Champions of the Earth Award, the UN’s highest environmental honour.
“This years’ laureates are recognised for a combination of bold, innovative, and tireless efforts to tackle some of the most urgent environmental issues of our times,” the UN Environment Programme said.
French President Emmanuel Macron, President of France and Modi have been jointly recognised in the Policy Leadership category for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action, including Macron’s work on the Global Pact for the Environment and Modi’s unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022.
Cochin International Airport has also been honoured this year with the award for Entrepreneurial Vision, for its leadership in the use of sustainable energy.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Thursday hit out at the Modi government for reportedly targeting a Defence ministry official who allegedly raised “objections” over the price of the Rafale jets.
He took to Twitter to take a swipe at Prime Minister Modi with a poem in Hindi alleging that he gave benefits to “crony capitalists” at the cost of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the Rafale deal.
Gandhi also alleged that the officer who raised questions over the deal was penalized, while those who sided with the government were rewarded. He tagged a media report that alleged that the Defence ministry official who raised objections over the price of the Rafale jets “proceeded” on a month’s leave and the 36-Rafale deal was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council thereafter.
Citing the same media report, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, in a tweet, claimed that the Modi government “sent on leave the ‘whistleblower”, who questioned the loss to the state exchequer “by paying 300% extra for 36 Rafale”.
He also alleged that a senior officer, who overruled the official who raised questions over the Rafale jets pricing, was made a member of UPSC (Union Public Service Commission). “Perks of pleasing Modi govt cover corruption tracks,” he claimed.
The Rafale deal controversy took a new turn last week after Francois Hollande, who was French president when the Rs 58,000 crore deal was announced, was quoted as saying by French publication Mediapart that France was given “no choice” in selection of the Indian partner for Dassault and the Indian government proposed the name of Reliance Defence as offset partner for the French aerospace giant.
Modi had announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighters after holding talks with Hollande on April 10, 2015, in Paris.
Congress leader Jaipal Reddy on Thursday alleged that French President Emmanuel Macron did not contradict Hollande’s claim on Rafale deal which was tantamount to the confirmation of his predecessor’s claim.
“It is for the first time that the present French president Macron while answering a specific question avoided the question. He said I was not incharge at that time. In other words, he did not contradict the version of former French president Hollande,” he claimed.
Even as the Congress steps up its attack on the government, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar told a Marathi news channel that people do not doubt PM Modi’s intentions and that the opposition’s demand to share technical details relating to the fighter jet made no sense.
BJP chief Amit Shah lauded Pawar’s statement and tweeted, “I thank Sharad Pawar, a former Defence minister and veteran MP, for placing national interests above party politics and speaking the truth. Dear Rahul Gandhi, you would be wiser by believing your own ally and a leader of Pawar Saheb’s stature.” He tagged the Congress president in his tweet.
Home minister Rajnath Singh asked Congress leaders to advise their chief against using “derogatory” language to target the PM, an apparent reference to Gandhi’s “chor” (thief) jibe at PM Modi in his tweet. “It is not Rafale. It is Ra-fail (Rahul-fail). He will be a failure. Rahul Gandhi is trying to mislead the people on the issue,” Singh said.
Rewa (Madhya Pradesh): Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday questioned the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the soaring fuel prices and asked “whose pockets are being filled” because of this.
He also attacked the Modi government, once again, over the Rafale fighter plane deal before wrapping up his two-day visit to the poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.
“Crude oil prices were 140 dollar per barrel in international market during the UPA regime. These rates have come down to 70 dollars (in global market) now. But, the prices of petrol and diesel in India have been going up,” Gandhi told a gathering at Baikunthpur of Rewa district.
He went on to ask, “Whose pockets are being filled with high prices? Why is the prime minister not speaking on price rise of petrol and diesel?”
Taking a dig at the prime minister, Gandhi said, “Narendra Modi used to ask the people (during his speeches) whether they are getting petrol at Rs 50 now. Yes, the people are getting half-a-litre petrol in Rs 50 now.”
The Congress leader said the Modi government has ignored the interests of farmers but helped a small group of industrialists by waiving loans amounting to nearly Rs 1.5 lakh crore.
Turning to the Rafale figher issue, he said during the UPA rule, the contract related to the deal was given to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) so that it could help create jobs.
“But the Modi government gave this deal to industrialist Anil Ambani and hiked the planes procurement price,” Gandhi alleged.
“When we asked about the price, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman lied that there was a secret clause. But, French President said that there is no such secret pact,” he charged.
He alleged that French President has said that their government had no option because the Indian government had proposed Anil Ambani”s name. Gandhi claimed that Ambani had not manufactured even a single aircraft but was awarded a contract of Rs 30,000-crore after “snatching” the work from HAL.
Ambani has already rejected Rahul Gandhi’s allegations and emphasised that the government had no role in the Rafale- manufacturer French company Dassault picking up his company as a local partner.
He had written to Gandhi on December 12, 2017, refuting allegations of his Reliance Group lacking experience to get the Rafale fighter jet deal.
Ambani had written that Reliance Defence has the largest shipyard in the private sector at Pipavav in Gujarat and is currently building five Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels (NOPVs) for the Indian Navy and 14 Fast Patrol Vessels for the Indian Coast Guard.
Congress president also alleged that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had helped industrialist Vijay Mallya in escaping from the country after defaulting on loans to the tune of thousands of crores but Modi doesn’t utter a word.
Gandhi also attacked the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, saying the roads in the state are full of potholes but Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan claims that they are better than those in the United States.
“As Shivraj comes on the stage (at a public meeting), even a five-year-old child says that a ‘Ghoshana Machine’ (a machine of announcements) has come. No work on ground only announcements, he said.
He said that the teachers in Madhya Pradesh in schools are hired on contract, which gives no security to their future.
Alleging rampant corruption in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress president said Chouhan must answer about the Vyapam scam and the e-tendering scam.
He also promised to implement the Land Acquisition Act with rates four times more than the market costs.
“Madhya Pradesh only pays twice the land prices,” Gandhi said.
Earlier in the day, a member of erstwhile royal family of Rewa Pushparaj Singh joined the Congress in the presence of Gandhi and other leaders.
He was a minister during the Congress regime in the state but had joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) in 2008. Singh’s son Divyaraj Singh is BJP MLA from Sirmour assembly seat.
Gandhi reached Chitrakoot (Satna district) from Allahabad by a helicopter on Thursday and visited the Kamta Nath temple where he performed ‘puja’.
The temple is located in the forested hills of Kamadgiri where, according to mythology, Lord Rama stayed during his exile.
Later on Thursday, he addressed two public meetings respectively at Chitrakoot and Satna besides holding a roadshow in Rewa city in the night.
On Friday, Gandhi addressed public meetings in four assembly constituencies of states Vindhya region including at Baikunthpur (Sirmour), Shahpur (Simaria), Lalgaon (Mangawan) and Chunari (Teothar).
After addressing the rally at Chunari, the Congress president left for Allahabad in a helicopter.
The 48-year-old Amethi MP was accompanied by Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath, state party campaign committee chairman Jyotiraditya Scindia and Leader of Opposition in MP Assembly Ajay Singh.
When the storm broke out after the former French president Hollande’s interview, Dassault Aviation which manufactures the Rafale aircraft stated that it selected Reliance Defence not under the pressure from the Indian government but because this company was registered under the Corporate Affairs Ministry of India and it had land in Nagpur which was closer to the runway.
But according to the information which has been revealed, the day when PM Modi announced the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft from France, that is on April 10, 2015, the Reliance Defence did not have any land at that time.
After the announcement of the Rafale deal on April 10, 2015, Reliance Defence gave a presentation to the Maharashtra government on June 2015 and demanded 289 acres of land in Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport SEZ area in Nagpur.
On August 28, 2015, the formal land allotment ceremony took place, during which Anil Ambani had announced that he would invest ₹6,500 crores in a large Greenfield Aerospace Equipment Manufacturing Centre near Nagpur. It was told that at this center, which would house Anil Ambani’s new fledgling company Reliance Defence Fixed Wing Aircraft, aero-structures for commercial transport aircraft and helicopters, which can be used in both defence and commercial sectors, will be built.
It was also informed that at the same center, the components required for providing the after-sales service of the aircraft would also be manufactured.Now, Dassault Aviation’s argument that one of the reasons behind choosing Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the offset partner was the availability of land falls through.It is significant to recall the timeline of the developments in this deal:
On April 10, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Paris that India will buy 36 Rafael fighter aircraft from France
Reliance Defence had come into existence only 12 days before this announcement
On April 13, 2015, the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar declares on Doordarshan that this deal has been done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he has supported it
In June 2015, Reliance Defence gives a presentation to the Maharashtra government and asks for the land
On August 28, 2015, after just 10 weeks, Maharashtra Government allots 289 acres of land to Reliance
On September 23, 2016, the agreement to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft between India and France is signed
On October 3, 2016, the joint venture between Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation,the company that manufactures Rafale is announced
Once Anil Ambani’s firm got the land, Éric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, arrived in India and a programme was held in Nagpur during which Trappier laid the foundation stone of this joint factory. Apart from Trappier and Anil Ambani, the then French Defence Minister Florence Parly, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and the then French Ambassador to India Alexandre Zeigler attended this function.
On this occasion, Anil Ambani said that it (the deal and establishing the factory) would not have been possible without the constant support and help of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The most interesting thing about this entire event is that when India entered into a deal for buying 36 Rafale fighters from France in fly-away state, then why was the joint venture between Dassault Aviation and Reliance Defence created?
When the aircraft was not to be manufactured in India then why was the slogan ‘Make in India’ so harped about in this deal?
In fact, the entire matter seems to be going beyond these 36 Rafale aircraft.
After the sensational statement by Francois Hollande and the furor it created, explanations and justifications have been coming in from all corners and the recent clarification was given by the law minister on Saturday, September 22, that “36 aircraft are coming from France, rest will be manufactured here in India”.
What can be understood from this statement? That the deal is not for 36 aircraft but for more than that? Or has it been decided that in the future too, the purchase of new aircraft will be through this new joint venture between Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation?
A former top defence aide and one of the military advisers to the ex-President of France, Francois Hollande in an exclusive interview with IndiaScoops.com, has concurred and stood by the statements made by the former French Premier on the Rafale deal.
“I was aware and in the know of almost everything concerning the deal and what the ex-President said is absolutely correct and true,” he told IndiaScoops.com.
He also told IndiaScoops.comthat there is great pressure from the Government of India (GOI) on the French establishment, the French government and Dassault Aviation to issue press statements favoring the decisions taken at that point in time.
The French government, the former French Premier Francois Hollande and the entire Defence setup of France had absolutely no role to play in the selection of the Indian partner. It was a decision foisted upon us by the GOI, he told IndiaScoops.com.
According to one of Hollande’s former Defence adviser who spoke to IndiaScoops.com,even Dassault Aviation was initially keen on going ahead with the Indian PSU HAL and was looking forward to partnering with HAL for tech-transfer and joint-manufacturing of the state-of-the-art fighter jet.
He supported the IndiaScoops.comstory that the decision was mysteriously changed at the last minute by Dassault CEO Eric Trappier (Read Here) and two other officials, in spite of written reservations by the HODs of the entire Dassault tech team, who had an animated discussion on email among themselves, about the pros and cons of working with a new inexperienced company like Reliance Defence Ltd, which lacked the expertise and experience to handle state-of-the-art classified military and aviation tech.
“Ask Dassault to produce the emails and internal assessment of their own teams and the entire matter will become crystal clear,” the former Defence expert told IndiaScoops.comon phone from Paris on condition of anonymity.
Last week former French president Francois Hollande, who negotiated the Rafale deal with PM Narendra Modi, declared that it was the Indian government (GOI) who proposed Reliance — “we had no choice”, he said.
But a day later, he said that it was for Dassault to comment on whether it had been pressured to choose Anil Ambani’s firm as an offset partner — as part of the contract, Dassault has to invest 50 per cent of the overall value of the deal or Rs. 30,000 crore in partnering with defence manufacturers in India.
According to a report in The Wire, the former French President is understood to have told a publication: The new deal also included the offset agreement between Dassault and the Reliance Group, now the subject of controversy. How and by whom was the latter selected? “We didn’t have any say in this matter,” Hollande told Mediapart.
“It is the Indian government which had proposed this service group, and Dassault who negotiated with Anil Ambani. We didn’t have the choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us. That’s why, also, this group had no reason to give me any grace [favour] of any sort.
Hyderabad: The Maharashtra Police on Tuesday arrested Hyderabad-based revolutionary writer and Maoist sympathiser Varavara Rao for his alleged conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A police team from Pune arrested Varavara Rao after conducting raids on his Hyderabad. Searches were also conducted at the houses of his family members and friends including a senior journalist K V Kurmanath who is Varavara Rao’s son-in-law.
Varavara Rao was shifted to the government-run Gandhi Hospital for medical check-up. He was produced before a local court at Nampally for a transit warrant.
Varavara Rao is to be shifted to Pune for further inquiry.
The Pune police are likely to shift him to Pune on transit warrant after producing him before the court.
Police had, in June, allegedly recovered a letter mentioning from Pune, a plan to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the house of one of the five people arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence.
The letter written by a person identified only as ”R” reportedly mentions a plot to kill PM Modi on the lines of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Speaking to media persons Congress Maharashtra chief Ashok Chavan alleged that the “Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare had also tried to investigate the Malegaon bomb blast case, but he couldn’t complete it.
The BJP government in Maharashtra may give a clean chit in the Malegaon case too as the Sanatan Sanstha workers are always seen in at the Mantralaya and legislature offices coordinating with the government.
They have free access to the entire government machinery, Ministers and MLAs, Chavan alleged.
After the seizure of explosives and pistols from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut, Opposition leader in the Legislative Assembly and Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil alleged on Friday that communal forces had hatched a conspiracy of bomb blasts on Bakra-Id, to create communal riots across the state.
Vikhe Patil and Congress state president Ashok Chavan demanded a ban on outfits like the Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti immediately, saying that the BJP-led government in Maharashtra must not protect those who promote violence and terrorism.
Vikhe Patil said Vaibhav Raut was involved in the riots and other offences and explosives were seized from him. Hindu Janjagruti Samiti declared it’s a second part of the Malegaon blasts which proves that, a conspiracy was hatched to create bomb blasts and communal riots.
Role of the organisations like Sanatan Sanstha and HJS were suspicious from day one in the context of murders of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and Gouri Lankesh.” Vikhe Patil asked whether now the State would approach the Union government in order to ban such organisations.
August 13, 2018: Interrogation of the arrested accused by the Maharashtra ATS Raut, Kalaskar and Gondhalekar owning allegiance to the Sanatan Sanstha, the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and the Shri Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan has revealed that the trio were trying to procure about 70 pistols and about about 2000 rounds of ammunition.
The Maharashtra ATS had arrested Vaibhav Raut from Nalla Sopara and Sharad Kalaskar and Sudhanva Gondhalekar last week from Pune.
They were trying to manufacture bullets at a hardware factory in Satara, but were unsuccessful in their attempts till now. They had manufactured 11 bombs and had accumulated enough material to manufacture at least 30-40 more bombs.
The Karnataka SIT investigating the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh feels the main group is headed by a retired Indian Army colonel and three others who are senior members of a well-known right-wing association.
The leads were obtained from the Karnataka SIT. The SIT has arrested 13 persons, 2-3 of them are actively linked to the Sanatan Sanstha. Their interrogation led to the names of 10 others, three of whom were arrested by the ATS last week.
The ATS raids on 10 and 11 August, led to the confiscation of 11 country-made pistols with magazines, an air gun, ten pistol barrels, six pistol magazines, six partially-made pistol bodies, three partially made magazines and several parts of firearms, reported PTI.
Besides, materials used to make bombs, a chopper, six number plates of vehicles, CDs, pen drives, hard discs and handbooks and other literature on bomb-making were also found. The investigators suspect that materials seized were to be used for making IEDs.
Around 16 people, who were considered accomplices of the three accused, were also arrested.
ATS sources told the Indian Express that all three accused blamed each other for bombs and claimed innocence for themselves.
“Raut claimed that he was not aware that they were bombs and that he had kept the consignment for safe-keeping on the request of the other two accused. The other two have been claiming that the explosives were found at Raut’s residence and they had nothing to do with them,” an ATS official told Indian Express.
All the suspects are reportedly linked to the Sanatan Sanstha, which was allegedly responsible for the murder of three rationalists – Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi, as well as the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh.
One of the arrested accused, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar from Satara is a active member of the Shri Shiva Pratishthan Hindustan whose chief Sambhaji Bhide had been booked in two criminal cases in connection with the violence near Bhima Koregaon on January 1 by the Pune police.
Gondhalekar was actively involved as an activist with several far-right Hindutva groups including the HJS and is a known sympathizer of the Sanatan Sanstha.
Bhide who has a huge following in interior Maharashtra is held in high respect by PM Narendra Modi as well as Uddhav Thackeray and several RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders. PM Modi has openly and publicly admitted that he considers Bhide his ‘guru‘.
August 11, 2018: Among the three accused persons, arrested by the Maharashtra ATS on Friday, for possession of 20 crude bombs, explosives, timers, detonators, bomb fuses and other material, Vaibhav Raut, a member of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti and the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS), is also believed to be a sympathizer or worker of the right-wing Sanatan Sanstha which is allegedly involved in the murder of three rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi and the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Karnataka.
Another arrested accused, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar from Satara is a active member of the Shri Shiva Pratishthan Hindustan whose chief Sambhaji Bhide had been booked in two criminal cases in connection with the violence near Bhima Koregaon on January 1 by the Pune police.
Gondhalekar was actively involved as an activist with several far-right Hindutva groups including the HJS and is a known sympathizer of the Sanatan Sanstha.
Bhide who has a huge following in interior Maharashtra is held in high respect by PM Narendra Modi as well as Uddhav Thackeray and several RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders. Modi has openly and publicly admitted that he considers Bhide his ‘guru‘.
Gondhalekar who was arrested on Friday by the ATS after a tip from the Karnataka SIT investigating the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh is reportedly Bhide’s close confidante and an active member in his outfit.
All the arrested accused or the outfits they work for are involved in 4-5 murders – those of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh. Their outfits have been involved in bomb blasts at Panvel, Thane and Margao.
Sanatan Sanstha members have been arrested in four bombings in Vashi, Thane, Panvel (all in 2007) and Goa (in 2009) and in the murders of Narendra Dabholkar (in 2013), Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi (both in 2015).
The third accused, Sharad Kasalkar was arrested along with Raut from his residence in Nallasapara. Live crude bombs, detonators, electronic equipment and parts and gelatin sticks were allegedly recovered from the accused.
The ATS arrests materialized after information passed on by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Karnataka police probing the murder of Gauri Lankesh revealed the names of 10-12 persons who were actively involved in terror activities, including plots to eliminate anti-Hindu voices. In all a total of 20 persons are under the Maharashtra ATS scanner.
Two names that stood out in the Bhima-Koregaon violence that left one dead and several injured, were Sambhaji Bhide, a former RSS worker and Milind Ekbote, a former BJP corporator from Pune.
The heavyweight leader from Sangli who was earlier a senior RSS leader, heads a self-formed organisation Shiv Pratishthan in Kolhapur which enjoys huge support from the public.
Bhide’s aura is such that he is admired by several heavyweight political figures including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and several senior RSS and VHP leaders.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Sangli during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he specially met Sambhaji Bhide and said that he had come to see Guruji not on his request but on his order.
Another instance which proves the steel of Bhide is when the current Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis halted his helicopter convoy to meet with Guruji and discuss an imperative political matter.
According to media reports, Narendra Modi and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray have high respect for Bhide. Modi during his campaign in 2014 elections had visited Bhide’s home at Sangli to seek his blessings. Moreover – according to the fact checking website Boom Live, in a campaign speech at Raigad, Maharashtra Bhide said, “mein Bhide guruji ka bahut abhari hoon. Kyunki unhone mujhe nimantran nahi diya tha. Unhonhe mujhe hukum kiya tha. Aur aap lok aathi guruji ka hukum, sunhe ke aur palan karne ke. Mein bhide guruji ko bahut saalon se jaanta hoon….”
“I am extremely grateful to Bhide Guruji as he did not give me any invitation. He ordered me. And all of you are aware of his orders and to hear them and follow them. I know Bhide Guruji from many years now and when we were learning about public service, we were given Bhide Guruji’s example…” – Narendra Modi
Modi addressed Bhide as a mahapurush(great personality) and tapasvi(sage) in his speech and praised him for his devotion, hard work and discipline that he displays in life.
Boom Live states that both Narendra Modi and Uddhav Thackeray had approached Bhide for blessings and support in 2014 Lok Sabha elections as quoting a report by the Indian Express. Bhide showed his displeasure to both the parties for the split in the saffron alliance at that time and stressed that the Shiv Sena and the BJP must stay together.
At his 2014 election rally in Sangli’s Tasgaon Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to staunch Hindutva activist Sambhaji Bhide (Guruji) as one of his inspirations, reports the Indian Express.
The same reports says the former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist, Bhide is the founder president of the Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, an outfit with sizeable clout in Sangli, Satara, and Kolhapur districts of Western Maharashtra.
At the Tasgaon rally, Modi had said he had come to seek blessings of Bhide Guruji, who had been an inspiration during the early days of his life. Modi also reminded crowds that “at the instance of Bhide Guruji, he had visited the Raigad fort to gain inspiration from Maratha warrior king Chatrapati Shivaji, before accepting the responsibility of leading the BJP to power at the centre.”
The Indian Expressreport terms Bhinde a rabble-rouser with a huge fan following among the poor, jobless youth in interior Maharashtra.