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It took Prime Minister Narendra Modi to draw the election conversation in Maharashtra out of the labyrinth of allegations and counter allegations on how the BJP-Sena and Congress-NCP alliances collapsed.
In his first election rally for the Maharashtra Assembly elections, Modi had a crowd of over a lakh people in Beed chanting his name as he promised he would help Maharashtra surpass Gujarat in terms of development, make the backward Marathwada a hub of industry and jobs, and complete the late Union minister Gopinath Munde’s dream of rail connectivity for Beed a reality.
In a 40-minute speech in which he made no mention of Shiv Sena, Modi made a pitch for a “stable BJP government” in Maharashtra, promising to supervise the state’s return to industrial and economic progress. “I want to serve Maharashtra from Delhi. I will fill 15 years’ worth of gap in working for the state. I will take Maharashtra ahead of Gujarat,” he said. Earlier, he called Maharashtra Gujarat’s elder brother.
The PM appeared to be making a pitch for himself, seeking votes for a “bahumat sarkar” akin to the NDA government at the Centre. Mocking the Congress for seeking an account of his first 100 days in power, Modi said the previous Union government had failed to get India noticed on the world stage. “The Congress is asking what Modi has done. But the Congress also had Hindustan for so many years. Was there ever such global recognition for India in the past? Has the world not taken note of us now? Because of whom?” he asked.
As the crowd roared, “Modi, Modi, Modi”, the PM shook his head. “Not Modi. The magic was not Modi’s. It was the magic of sava-sau crore people who elected a majority government.”
He then asked if people had noticed that petrol prices were down. Not satisfied with the answer, he said, “Zor se bolo yaar.” One lakh voices bellowed: “Haan!”
The Modi-for-Maharashtra trajectory continued as he spoke of his plans for the state even during his engagements with foreign heads of state, including Japan.
He also took potshots at the erstwhile Congress-NCP government, saying that the money that went into scams could fill the development deficit, and that the two ruling parties were playing a game of “Kaun Banega Arabpati”.