With his government under attack from rival parties for alleged designs to sever Mumbai from Maharashtra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an emotive appeal Sunday asking people to give him an opportunity to serve Mumbai.
At a rally in Borivali, he said, “I am yours. Mumbai has total rights on me. Don’t you want to take the advantage of your right? In that case, please give me a chance to serve you.”
Modi’s rally was his third and last in Mumbai. Borivali on the western suburbs has a mixed population of Gujaratis, Marathis and North Indians. Although he did not mention the Shiv Sena, Modi was addressing the 1.25 crore Mumbaikars who are also the Sena’s target.
The city with 36 assembly seats is crucial to the BJP, where it faces its biggest challenge from the Sena and the MNS. In 2009, the BJP won five seats and the Sena four, against the Congress’s 18 and the NCP’s four.
Since the Congress, the NCP, the Sena and the MNS accused the PM of trying to take Mumbai out of Maharashtra, Modi has already stressed Maharashtra is not complete without Mumbai.
Sunday was a day of rallies across Mumbai, with Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray too addressing crowds.
Modi said, “Make no mistake, Modi is not alone. There are 1.25 crore people standing in support with him. And it is their strength that will transform the face of Mumbai and Maharashtra.”
Referring to criticism against his government he said, “I know they are asking the question, ‘Modi ke aane se aapki jeb mein kuch aya kya? Kya aap ko behtar naukri mile hain kya? ( My rivals are asking if after the Modi government came you have got better jobs). I admit there is a long way to go before tackling major problems. But I assure that after the Modi government came, the country is moving in a definite direction.”
Attacking the Congress-NCP regime, he said, “It often makes us wonder how a state like Maharashtra could be lagging behind. Who is responsible? It is the failure of the Congress-NCP government. Don’t you want to get rid of their goonda raj?”
He added, “ I reassure you of my total commitment to the development of Maharashtra. I am absolutely committed to the development of Mumbai.”
Modi was earlier in Pandharpur, where PTI described him as calling the NCP a “Naturally Corrupt Party”. He said it is not a rashtravadi party, but a bhrashtacharvadi party. PTI quoted him as saying: “NCP is naturally corrupt. Since the time the party was born, nothing has changed, their leaders have remained the same. Do you know what their clock (party symbol) means? The clock shows 10 minutes past 10 which means in 10 years they have increased their corrupt activities 10 times. If they (NCP) are voted to power once again, they will increase their corruption 15 times.”