Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi attacked the Congress and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday for "failing" to ensure development of Northeast though he represented Assam for the last 23 years in the Rajya Sabha.
"For 23 years you have been sending the Prime Minister from here. You tell me, you made such a big investment but what did you get in return. Did you get anything? ... If he being yours could not do anything for you, then what will he do for the nation?" Modi told public rallies in Guwahati and Imphal.
He said even if an ordinary worker from Assam had represented the state for so many years, he could have changed the face of the state, but Singh failed to do so and owed an explanation to the people for it.
"The Congress chief ministers invite the prime minister for laying foundation stone or cutting ribbons for projects, but it ends there and nothing happens afterwards," the Gujarat chief minister said.
Modi said National Democratic Alliance Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had taken the initiative of creating a separate ministry for the Northeastern region and taken steps to develop it, but the Congress governments in the state and the Centre "have been indulging in corruption only".
"Among all Northeast states, Assam's condition is worst," he said, alleging "Congress leaders are narrow minded. Their thinking is narrow, dreams are small and vision is shortsighted.
"You have tolerated Congress for 60 years. They only made promises and misguided the country. Give me just 60 months, I will fulfil your aspirations," Modi said.
"It's only a matter of 100 days, Congress' exit is confirmed. They won't survive," the Gujarat chief minister said.
Speaking about the death of Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Tania in Delhi, he said "It is a shameful incident for the nation. I offer my prayers for the boy and his family. There is lack of governance there. There are cases of atrocities on women."
"I hope the Government of India and the Government of Delhi come out of the blame game and works toward ensuring justice for the young boy and his family," Modi said.
He said such incidents further alienated the people of the Northeastern states, which due to the 'unfortunate policies' of the Congress have been neglected and did not develop in the last 60 years.
19-year-old Tania, an Arunachal Pradesh MLA's son, was found dead last month after he was allegedly beaten up by a group of 5-6 men in Lajpat Nagar market in South Delhi following an altercation sparked by their taunts on his hairstyle.
The BJP leader listed the issues of insurgency and the drug-trafficking as the ones impacting the Northeastern region and accused the Congress government in the state of failing in its efforts to control the menace.
He also said insurgency was leading to "fake encounters".
Modi said the BJP would work toward developing the potential of herbal industry, horticulture and agro-processing industries when it came to power.
Hitting out at Congress governments over corruption, the BJP leader said, "They are depositing black money abroad and do not want to bring it back."
The BJP government would do everything to bring back black money to India and invest it in development work, including for the poor, spreading education and giving food and medicine for the elderly, he said.
Before Modi's rally in Manipur, insurgents exploded a powerful bomb and opened fire at a road opening party of 44th Assam Rifles battalion at Lambisa in Ukhrul district killing a security man and injuring three other seriously.
K Anurag adds from Guwahati:
Recounting his days in Assam where he used to work as a Sangh Parivar worker for a long time, Modi said people of Assam were very peaceful and generous in heart but the wrong policies of the government bred insurgency and resulted in loss of lives of so many youth in the state.
Modi promised special development schemes, employment generation programmes and setting up of IT hubs in Assam and rest of the Northeast once BJP came back to power in New Delhi.
He termed all the eight Northeastern states including Sikkim as ‘Asta Lakshmi’ and said Lakshmi (the goddess of opulence) sits on ‘kamal’ (lotus, the election symbol of the BJP).
“Development is the key to all problems and the demographic dividend of 65 per cent people under the age of 35 years would turn into demographic defect if jobs are not created,” he said,
underlining the need for the creation of a skill development commission for employment generation.
He slammed the “false propaganda of the Congress government on the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act” throughout the country and cited that only 10,018 persons in Assam got employment under the flagship scheme out of 12 lakh applicants.
The BJP leader also pointed out that the eastern and Northeastern part of the country were far behind in development process compared to the western states of the country because of the wrong policies of successive Congress governments and pledged to bring about parity in development.
Modi said Lokapriya Gopinath Bardoloi, the first premier of Assam who worked shoulder to shoulder with Sardar Patel in keeping the country united and prevented Assam from going to Pakistan, was not given Bharat Ratna by the Congress government. “But BJP-led NDA government would give him his due,” he added.
With inputs from PTI
Image: Narendra Modi being felicitated during his campaign rally in Guwahati on Saturday