VIJAYPUR, Feb 3: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday kick-started Lok Sabha election campaign in J&K with the reiteration “to leave no stone unturned to ensure all-inclusive development” of state while tackling terrorism with iron-fist policy.
He also reaffirmed commitment to restore “rights and justice” to Kashmiri Pandit migrants, the victims of “violence and terrorism.”
The Prime Minister was addressing BJP’s “Maha rally” at Vijaypur in Samba district where he reached on the second leg of his day-long J&K visit to digitally inaugurate and lay foundation stone of several projects including the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in close vicinity of rally venue.
Modi tried to reassure the border residents suffering from recurrent Pakistan shelling from across the LoC and IB stating that all efforts were being made to ensure their safety by his government in two-pronged manner – one by “giving stern reply to the enemy” and secondly by constructing “14,000 bunkers” in safer zones.
He reaffirmed the commitment for generous support for all-encompassing development of J&K, which, he said, always figured as “the top priority” for his government. “While focussing on its equitable development, we’re tackling terrorism in J&K with iron-hand,” he said.
The Prime Minister also chose the occasion to reaffirm his government’s resolve to stand by, what he said, “persecuted children” of Mother India on the basis of “their faith in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh” through Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. “The country is duty bound to stand with them, who were once part of us yet got separated in 1947. They were ignored by previous regimes yet we’ll safeguard their interests. Their rights will be protected at all costs by our government,” he stated.
At the same time, Modi said that the central government was “committed and dedicated for restoration of the rights, dignity and justice” to Kashmiri Pandit migrants, who he said, “had to flee their homes in Kashmir due to violence and terrorism and had to suffer untold miseries.”
Interestingly this time, Modi distinctively attacked his party’s bête-noire Congress yet refrained from targetting BJP’s erstwhile regional alliance partners – National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party. In 2014, he had launched election campaign hitting both Congress and regional opponents, whom he had referred to as “Baap-Bete – n- Baap-Beti Ki Parties/Sarkaarein”, in equal measure.
Another important highlight of the rally was joining of BJP by Lt Gen (retired) Rakesh Kumar Sharma and Mohammed Hanif, the father of Aurangzeb, the army soldier who was abducted and killed by militants last year in the Valley when he was on his way to his home in Poonch on leave. Though they joined in presence of state leadership before Modi reached the venue yet both later shared the stage with the Prime Minister.
Prior to rally, Modi, joined by the Governor Satya Pal Malik, Union Minister of State in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh, party MPs Jugal Kishore Sharma, Shamsher Singh Manhas and Speaker Legislative Assembly Dr Nirmal Singh e-inaugurated and digitally laid foundation stones of various projects in a separate enclosure to maintain the distinction between party rally and official function.
Congress bashing dominated Modi’s address, which lasted over 30-minutes and which he began with his usual few catch-phrases in Dogri to strike the chord with the enthusiastic crowd. However, there was only passing and that too oblique reference to erstwhile coalition partner PDP as he said that many works/promises could not be accomplished due to coalition government.
“Many things we could not do when we’re in alliance. We wanted to hold Panchayat elections but we could not do so because of coalition government. However after breaking of coalition, when Panchayat elections were conducted, they saw massive 70 percent participation and there was no incident of violence. For overwhelming participation in polls, we hail the people of J&K despite spate of terrorism, which is being tackled with iron hand,” he said.
Besides using Citizenship (Amendment) bill to castigate Congress, Modi also slammed party’s main opponent by raking up Kartarpur Corridor, farmer loan-waiver and One Rank One Pension issues. Had former rulers been proactive Kartarpur Sahib would have been part of India, he said.
Enthused by the mammoth gathering, the Prime Minister said the love and affection showered by people of state in general and Jammu in particular always inspired him to work tirelessly to meet their aspirations and expectations.
He stated the interim budget contained several comprehensive proposals that would benefit each of these sections of society and this was in line with government’s philosophy of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’.
“Our farmers have been facing a series of challenges. To alleviate some of the hardships being faced by small and marginal farmers, the government has announced a Direct Income Support scheme under which an amount of Rs 6000 per annum will be provided to farmers having cultivable land of up to 2 hectares. This would benefit 12 Cr farmer families. Direct Income Support for farmers is critical as through this measure the government will be able to cover all the small and marginal farmers as compared to the MSP scheme which benefits just about 30 percent of such farmers,” he said.
“Unlike Congress which brazenly hoodwinks farmers in the electoral season by announcing loan-waiver, which it never honestly executes, our government has tried to address the root cause of troubles of farmers. Congress works on the policies which end up in adding to the sufferings of farmers and then it comes out with loan-waiver announcements for winning polls. Beemar Karo, Pudiya Do. In 2008-09, Congress had announced loan waiver for farmers yet it waived off loans only worth Rs 52,000 Cr against actual loans worth Rs 6 lakh Crore. Later CAG report revealed that even out of Rs 52,000 Cr loan waiver, Rs 30-35 Cr went to the non-deserving farmers. You all know Woh Kaun Sa Panja Tha Jo Khajana Kha Raha Tha. This time also, it announced loan waiver in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, after winning polls it’s waiving loans of those farmers who never availed it while genuine deserving farmers were given a loan waiver of Rs 13 as a cruel joke. In the name of farmers, the Congress has always filled the pockets of intermediaries,” he said.
“Similarly while the Congress government tried to hoodwink jawans on account of OROP with a grant of Rs500 Crore, our government has already distributed Rs 35000 Cr.
Modi said that the setting up of AIIMS would provide quality healthcare to the people and address the shortfall of healthcare professionals in the region. He announced that another 500 seats in the state medical colleges would be added soon. He said with University Institute of Engineering & Technology, Kathua, the youths from Jammu would benefit from the 10 percent EWS quota.
Despite having succeeded in pulling crowd for an enviable “show of strength” for political opponents, the party dismally failed in crowd management. Poor audio system further added to the woes of media persons.