BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi failed to draw much enthusiastic response from the 30,000-odd urban voters in Mumbai on Monday, but a large gathering in Congress bastion and tribal-dominated rural constituency Nandurbar that is favoured by the Gandhi family exhibited considerable excitement as Modi addressed a rally here on Tuesday afternoon.
In his last-but-one rally in Maharashtra, Modi said people from Nandurbar go to Surat for work every week for 2-3 days. “Nandurbar helps me win in Gujarat. Now, it will help me win the country,” he said, adding: “If Khandesh can toil and help Gujarat, it can toil and develop its own region.”
Describing Congress’s nine-term MP from Nandurbar Manikrao Gavit as old and lacking energy, Modi said the Congress and the Gandhis hadn’t done anything to bring development to the region. “He (Gavit) has helped only that family,” he said. Ridiculing him as one who doesn’t know how to read and write, Modi said a highly educated and young Dr Heena Gavit, the BJP candidate, would bring their woes to him in Delhi if the BJP was voted to power.
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As he has done at all his rallies, Modi tried to strike a chord with the people by starting his speech in Marathi, invoking local deity Mogra Devi, and calling Nandurbar the “Dakshin Kashi”. Addressing the tribals in the region, Modi said after 50 years of Independence it was the NDA government under A B Vajpayee that set up a separate ministry for tribals. Vajpayee, he said, sought information from every ministry about their work in tribal regions every three months.
Modi claimed that the Congress was spreading lies that Modi and the BJP would usher in a Uniform Civil Code that would take away the rights of Adivasis or tribals. “The BJP hasn’t given you the rights, neither has the Congress. It was Babasaheb Ambedkar who gave you those rights, it is the Constitution,” he said, adding that nobody could change the laws and take away your rights.
He pointed out that the BJP governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat served almost 40 per cent of all tribals in the country. “You have given them 60 years, give me 60 months to serve you. I will bring about a change in your life,” he said.
While BJP workers claimed it was a huge and successful rally, locals pointed out that the Congress’s — and that too without Sonia Gandhi — was much bigger, and included many women.
Modi finished his Lok Sabha campaign in Maharashtra with his last and 15th stop at Dhule after Nandurbar on Tuesday.