BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Saturday targeted the Congress and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for ignoring the development of Northeast as he addressed twin rallies in Guwahati and Imphal.
“Assam has given a prime minister to the country for the past 10 years. It has sent him to Rajya Sabha for over 23 years now. But what have you, the people of Assam, got in return after making such a huge investment?” Modi told the audience in Guwahati. Nearly two lakh people from across Assam converged to attend the rally in Guwahati.
Besides outlining a development strategy, Modi also tried to strike a chord with the people of Assam by promising expulsion of Bangladeshis.
“It was Rajiv Gandhi who had signed the Assam Accord and promised to expel the infiltrators. But 29 years later, while the youth of Assam remain jobless, it is the infiltrator who is getting the jobs. It is time we begin fresh registration and verification of the people and decide who is indigenous and who is a foreigner. Whether the Congress does this or not, take it from me, the BJP will,” he said.
In Imphal, the BJP PM nominee greeted the crowd in chaste Manipuri. Trying to strike an emotional chord, he told the gathering, “Indian culture is not complete without Manipuri dance, Indian sports is not complete without Manipuri sportspersons, and the Indian Army has a large number of boys and girls from Manipur now. Manipur adds to the diversity of India. In Indian mythology and Vaastu Shastra the north-east corner of the house is extremely important.’’
Invoking mythology, he said, “You worship Krishna. In Hindu mythology we believe Krishna was married in the Northeast — his wife Rukmini was believed to be from the region. Krishna lived in Gujarat. So there is a strong connection between Gujarat and Manipur.’’
Modi said Manipur has enough potential for development in areas like herbal medicine, IT sector and thereby provide employment to the local youth so that they do not have to move outside in search of jobs.
Hitting out at the Congress government in Manipur, he said, “All records of corruption have been broken by the Ibobi Singh government. Drug trafficking has become huge with official connivance. There have been fake encounters in the state and even pregnant women have been victims of these encounters — this is central and state governments’ solution to insurgency.”
At both the rallies, the common refrain was that of development. Modi said the BJP, once elected to power, would lay special emphasis on development of the entire eastern and northeastern regions as did Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he was prime minister. “Atalji had not only brought all officials to the Northeast for two days, but had also rolled out a Rs 40,000-crore package. It was Atalji who had made it mandatory for every central ministry to allocate 10 per cent of its budget for the Northeast. It was he who had created a separate ministry for the region.”
He also wondered why Assam and the Northeast could not be turned into an IT hub if thousands of young people from the region could go and work outside. “But the hurdle is shortage of power. You have given the Congress 60 years. Give me just 60 months, and I will change the state of affairs, fulfil the hopes and aspirations of the people,” he said.
At the Imphal rally, Modi said the Congress government has literally been handing over territory belonging to Manipur and India to neighbouring countries. “Border pillars have gone missing. Land from villages and churches has been given to Myanmar. This was never even brought up in Parliament. They hand over land to Myanmar, China and anyone who asks for it. How can a country run like this?’’
Referring to the death of Arunachal boy Nido Taniam in Delhi, he said, “Why do people have the impression that you are not part of the rest of the country. This must be rectified. This impression must go.’’
BJP leaders Prabhat Jha, Shahnawaz Hussain and Krishnapal Gujar also addressed a number of rallies.