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Modi accepting fitness challenge invokes attack by rivals

New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) The fitness challenge by Minister of Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore in Twitter turned political after Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted the gauntlet thrown by cricketer Virat Kohli, with the opposition parties daring him to reduce the spiralling prices.

Soon after Rathore appealed to the people to get fit and fitter and posted photos and videos on his exercise regime in the social media to inspire others to follow his advice, the #fitnesschallenge went viral with many celebrities from Bollywood, sports and politics including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Superstar Amitabh Bachchan and tennis player Sania Mirza accepting the challenge.

While the sports and film fraternity accepted the challenge and further dared others, the opposition leaders like Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav took on the government on issues like oil price and job creation.

Modi on Thursday accepted the fitness challenge thrown by cricketer Virat Kohli a day earlier, saying he would soon post a personal fitness video.

“Challenge accepted, Virat! I will be sharing my own #FitnessChallenge video soon. @imVkohli #HumFitTohIndiaFit,” Modi tweeted.

Earlier, posting his fitness video in a gym, Kohli tweeted: “I have accepted the #FitnessChallenge by @ra_THORe (Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore) sir. Now I would like to challenge my wife @AnushkaSharma, our PM @narendramodi ji and @msdhoni Bhai for the same. #HumFitTohIndiaFit #ComeOutAndPlay.”

Rathore’s challenge comes at a time when Modi government completes fourth year in office amid attacks by united opposition on several issues including fuel price, lack of jobs, issues concerning farmers and Thoothikudi incident in Tamil Nadu where 13 people were killed in police firing.

Using the platform to attack government and its policies, Rahul Gandhi dared Modi to bring down petrol and diesel prices or face countrywide agitation.

“Dear PM, Glad to see you accept the @imVkohli fitness challenge. Here’s one from me: Reduce fuel prices or the Congress will do a nationwide agitation and force you to do so.

“I look forward to your response,” Gandhi tweeted with the hashtag #FuelChallenge.

Petrol prices in Mumbai breached Rs 85/litre mark on Thursday and to sell at Rs 85.29 per litre. The price of the fuel is already at an all-time high in Mumbai along with Delhi and Chennai and is now creating new benchmarks daily.

Diesel prices too have reached unprecedented levels and set new records across the country. In Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai, it was sold at Rs 68.53, Rs 71.08, Rs 72.96 and Rs 72.35 per litre, respectively.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav used the opportunity to attack the government over its promises of creating two crore jobs every year and his claim of inclusive development, which he calls “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”.

“While we have nothing against accepting fitness challenge from @imVkohli, I urge you to accept the challenge to provide jobs to young, relief to farmers, promise of no violence against Dalits & minorities. Would you accept my challenge @narendramodi Sir?,” Tejashwi tweeted.

The politicization of the fitness campaign by opposition leaders has not gone down well with the government, which wanted to encourage the citizens, particularly the youth, considering their health profile and lifestyle to take up more physical activities.

“Work and workout can go hand in hand anywhere – be it home or office. A few minutes on fitness workout at any time of the day is not a waste of time, rather it can increase productivity manifold both at individual as well as organizational levels,” said a government official.

“Portrayal of such a noble gesture in poor light and trivialising it by certain quarters is indeed regrettable,” the official added.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala took a dig at Modi, saying being the Prime Minister he should accept the challeneges being faced by the country on various fronts.

“Dear PM, Pl accept the #FitnessChallenge to restore the economic fitness of common man by reducing the ruaway prices of petrol/ Diesel as you fleeced Rs 10 lakh crore in 4 years by raising exise 11 times. Restore the job fitness of young by giving two crore jobs, grant MSP fitness of cost plus 50 per cent profit to India’s farmers as you promised,” Surjewala tweeted asking him to also respond on national security and corruption.

However, another Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha took to Twitter to attack the Prime Minister on personal grounds, challenging him to prove his educational qualification.

“Dear Mr Modi, I am putting up my BA, MA and MBA degrees here. Are you ready for the #DegreeFitHaiChallenge? I await your response with high expectations,” Jha said.

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan and Anushka Sharma were prominent film stars who accepted the #HumFitTohIndiaFit challenge thrown by Rathore. Besides Kohli, P.T. Usha, Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza, P.V. Sindhu and Gautam Gambhir were among other sportpersons who not only responded to the challenge but also posted their videos showing their workout.

“When was the last time we saw a Minister do this??? Coolest?? leading by example… congratulations on this #FitnessChallenge Sir.. Here’s to a brighter and healthier India,” Sania Mirza said in a tweet.