With new BJP allies Ramvilas Paswan and Upendra Kushwaha by his side, Narendra Modi sought support for the “National Development Alliance” in Muzaffarpur on Monday. He reminded Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the poor development record of his state, and accused him of being soft on terrorism as part of his “votebank politics”.
LJP chief Paswan, who shared the dais with the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate for the first time since joining the alliance last week, addressed Modi as “vikas purush” and sought a commitment on the development of Dalits and Muslims.
Rashtriya Lok Samata Party’s Kushwaha, a prominent OBC leader who parted ways with Nitish in 2012, stressed on the uplift of farmers.
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“I welcome Paswanji and Kushwahaji into the NDA. Those who thought that BJP was a party of baniyas and upper castes were surpised after a person from a backward community was made its PM candidate,” Modi told a massive crowd on the outskirts of this district town. “The coming decade will be one in which the Dalit, the exploited and the backward will march on the road to progress,” he said.
Modi described his idea of development as one in which every house had a toilet, a functioning tap, and a power connection. “I am ashamed to see that even after 60-plus years of independence, we have not been to provide a life of dignity to our mothers and sisters by building tollets at home,” he told the cheering meeting.
He asked Nitish how providing toilets in “only 23 per cent households”, electricity to “only 16 per cent homes” and giving jobs to only 2,000 of the 8.5 lakh registered unemployed could qualify as “development”.
He attacked the Congress and third front, saying while he was trying to “find solutions to problems”, they were only trying to “sort out Modi”. “To every question on inflation and corruption, they talk of secularism… Secularism to us is appeasement of none and development of all.”
Comparing the apparent difference in the approaches of Paswan and Nitish to the NDA, Modi said, “Paswanji left the NDA after the 2002 riots. But whenever we met, there was warmth. But there are other leaders who behave in a certain way behind closed doors, and in another way in public, and baulk at even shaking hands (with me).”
“People cannot forgive hypocrisy,” he said, referring to Nitish’s ire at a Gujarat government advertisement that had shown the two chief ministers holding hands in solidarity.
Paswan, who described Modi as the “future PM”, on his part said: “So long as I was with them, I was good. Nitish Kumar would say that I should be the CM. But one should not stay where there is no respect. NDA has treated me better than UPA.”