Kicking off his election rallies in Bihar on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi contrasted the NDA’s work on a “naya Bihar” with the “misrule” of the 1990s, while accusing the Opposition of being anti-reform, and of siding with “dalaal” (brokers), Naxalites and “forces out to weaken the country”.
At three brief halts in Sasaram, Gaya and Bhagalpur, the Prime Minister spoke of the Galwan clash with China in June, in which soldiers of 16 Bihar regiment had been killed, and accused the Opposition of supporting those “conspiring” against India.
“Today, the situation has become such that these people (Opposition parties) do not hesitate to support people who are conspiring to weaken India… The country had been waiting for years to abrogate Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir. We took the decision, but today, these people are talking about reversing this decision. They are saying that if they come to power, they will bring back Article 370. And look at their audacity. After saying all this, they still have the nerve to seek votes from the people of Bihar, the Bihar that sends its sons and daughters to guard the country on the border. Is it not an insult to the feelings of Bihar?” he asked the crowd at his first rally in Sasaram.
In Gaya, Modi accused the Opposition parties of supporting Naxalites. “What an irony it is that the place where Lord Buddha received enlightenment, the land of peace, has been gifted to Naxalites,” he said.
Modi said most of the current problems of the state were a legacy of the misrule of the 1990s, and told people they were witnessing the making of a “naya Bihar”.
Directing much of his attack on the RJD, the main opposition party, but without naming it, Modi said, “There was a time when people who used to get off at railway stations at night would spend the entire night at the platform and go to their homes only in the morning. There were times when people would not buy cars for fear of letting people of a particular (vishesh) party guess their incomes,” he said.
“Lekin, aaj yeh naya Bihar hai. Aaj ke Bihar me laalten ki zaroorat nahi hai (This is a new Bihar. There is no need for a kerosene lamp in today’s Bihar),” Modi said, referring to the RJD’s election symbol.
The crowd in Gaya was relatively sparse because of restrictions placed due to the coronavirus epidemic. Only people with masks were allowed inside the venue, and entry was barred once all the well-spaced out plastic chairs were taken. However, after the speech began, a few thousand more people sneaked in.
Modi also brought up the recent protests by the Opposition against the two farm laws introduced by the Central government, and accused them of trying to save brokers and middlemen.
“When the country decided to free farmers from middlemen and brokers, they (the Opposition) came out in support of middlemen and brokers; mandi-MSP (market and Minimum Support Price) is just an excuse,” he said.
Modi promised that if voted to power, the NDA government would further upgrade infrastructure in Bihar. “People, whether they are tourists or others, want to only go only to places that have basic minimum facilities… That is why Gaya and Bodh Gaya are getting all these facilities. There is an IIM in Gaya now. There was a time when there weren’t enough schools for children here,” he said.
In Gaya, where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was not accompanying him, Modi mentioned his name only once during his 25-minute speech.
He asked people to come out and vote, but with precautions to protect themselves against Covid-19.
“Aapka vote isliye zaroori hai taki Bihar phir se beemar na pad jaye. Aur satarkta isliye zaroori hai taki aap aur aapka parivaar beemari se bacha rahe (Your vote is important to ensure that Bihar does not fall sick again. And it’s important for you to be vigilant so that you and your families are protected from the disease),” he said.
Modi, however, made no mention of the free vaccine promise made by the BJP in its election manifesto.
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