Back in poll-bound Assam within a span of 20 days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday asked people to give the BJP a chance in the forthcoming Assembly elections for all-round development of the state.
“Vote for sarbananda (all-round well-being) of Assam,” he said, reminding people that Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is the party’s chief minister candidate.
Modi had addressed a rally each in Kokrajhar and Guwahati on January 19.
Friday’s rally was held in Moran, part of the tea country and about 400 km from the state capital. Appealing to the tea worker community, which is a deciding factor in nearly 30 Assembly seats in the Upper Assam region, he hit out at “one family (the Gandhis) that stood in the way” of the Rajya Sabha passing a vital Bill intended to raise the bonus of these workers.
“Assam today wants a government that works alongside the Centre. It wants a government that listens to and works for the poor and brings about a change in their lives,” Modi said. “Governments came and went (in the state), but there was no change in your lives. You know which government did what. Give the BJP one opportunity —we want to fulfill our aspirations; we will make Assam India’s number one state.”
Assam’s global identity was created by tea, he said, and yet thousands of workers who have toiled for four or five generations in manufacturing tea remain neglected. “What have you got? A house? Drinking water? Schools for the children? Nothing,” he said. Referring to his early years, Modi said, “Once upon a time, I also earned a living by selling your tea.”
Modi also spoke about funds of more than Rs 27,000 crore purportedly lying in government coffers which should have gone to labourers on retirement or on quitting jobs. “I discovered that money when I took over as the PM. On inquiry, I found that it belonged to thousands of labourers across the country. Now we want to identify all those to whom this money belongs, and give it to them,” he said.
The Prime Minister also said that, if elected, the BJP will not only protect the identity, future and pride of Assam but also ensure security of women and girls. Speaking about the NDA government’s priority focus on infrastructure and skill development in the Northeast, Modi said it is unfortunate that the region does not have proper road and railway infrastructure to send out its produce. “There is also an absence of good educational institutions here,” he said.
The Congress has won a record three consecutive elections in Assam since 2001.