Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday visited Jharkhand for the seventh time since taking charge last year, inaugurating the solar plant at the Khunti district court and a loan disbursement camp under the PM’s Mudra Yojana at Dumka.
Modi was risking overexposure with his 10th visit to the state since revealing his Prime Ministerial ambitions: the first such visit took place when the BJP organised a massive rally for him in Ranchi on December 29, 2013. However, massive crowds greeted him at both venues, giving an indication of how robust the BJP’s organisational machinery remains, as well as the PM’s popularity in the state.
Modi himself seemed to be aware of how his visits were extraordinary for Jharkhand. “….Earlier, people did not know that there is a state like this and people live here….,” he said at one point in Dumka. It seemed to have struck a chord, for people responded with applause.
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At Khunti, he seemed to be anticipating criticism that this visit to the state – to attend two low-profile events – was a proxy campaign event intended for adjacent Bihar. “You must be wondering – and it is fodder for our friends in the media – why this country’s Prime Minister is coming to a district court. What kind of a person is he to dream of 175 gigawatt of renewal energy and come all the way to Khunti for 185 kilowatt,” Modi said, before answering that he had come on the invitation of Jharkhand High Court’s Justice D.N. Patel because it was October 2 and was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. The PM said that Khunti’s was the first court in the country to run on solar power.
Despite the Bihar rumours – the PM travelled to Banka after Dumka to address his first rally since the model code of conduct came into effect – Modi hardly mentioned the election there. There was a tangential reference, when he talked of providing LPG connections to the poor: “People who contest elections in the name of the poor have been chanting gareeb, gareeb. It has been 60 years, my dear friends. To date, they have not considered what a mother has to do to cook food for her children.” Apart from distributing Mudra loans to five individuals, the PM also gave away free LPG connections to four.
True to his self, the PM could not resist a few jabs at opponents. In a tangential reference, to Rahul Gandhi’s ideas on women empowerment, Modi said in Dumka, “I can say with pride that, of the 42 lakh who have received loans under the PM’s Mudra Yojana, 20 lakh are women. There can be no better women empowerment than this.” He said “women empowerment” in English.
Chief minister Raghubar Das’ short speech earlier sounded like a report card of his government. There was of course, no mention of the communal violence that gripped the capital for four days the past week. Das wants to be the new Raman Singh and the PM had encouraging words for him: “To jump from 29th to 3rd in the ease of doing business report is a great achievement. Crores of compliments to all who worked towards it.” The PM was referring to Jharkhand’s position in a September report the World Bank prepared for the government that tracked the status of the implementations of business reforms.
On a day his environment minister announced an “ambitious” emissions reduction proposal, Modi said that he was willing to carry out the penance even though the sins that led to climate change were not committed by India. “Our ancestors did not show us the path to environmental destruction. However, to save humanity, India is willing to do its part. And we have taken a decision now,” he said, in apparent reference to minister Prakash Javadekar’s announcement about India’s emissions pledge that comes ahead of the November 30-December 11 conference in Paris that will seek to draft a new international agreement on climate change.
On a day his environment minister announced an “ambitious” emissions reduction proposal, Modi said in Khunti that he was willing to carry out the penance even though the sins that led to climate change were not committed by India.
“Our ancestors did not show us the path to environmental destruction. However, to save humanity, India is willing to do its part. And we have taken a decision now,” he said, in apparent reference to minister Prakash Javadekar’s announcement about India’s emissions pledge that comes ahead of the November 30-December 11 conference in Paris that will seek to draft a new international agreement on climate change.