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Modi stays away from MLAs named in Muzaffarnagar riots in Agra

November 21, 2013 19:53 IST

Modi stays away from MLAs named in Muzaffarnagar riots in Agra

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Sharat Pradhan

In an obvious bid to continue projecting himself in a changed statesman-like mould,Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, who arrived in Agra to address a mammoth rally on Thursday afternoon, kept his distance with  two controversial BJP members of Legislative Assembly, accused of inciting communal violence in Muzaffarnagar.

The MLAs -- Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana -- who were initially booked under the National Security Act that was dropped only following the court’s intervention, were systematically removed from the dais well before Modi’s delayed arrival at the sprawling rally venue, where over 100,000 people braved a hot afternoon sun for more than four hours, waiting for him.

Both MLAs were invited briefly to the stage well before Modi’s arrival to be garlanded by veteran BJP leader and Lucknow Lok Sabha Member of Parliament Lalji Tandon and former state BJP chief Surya Pratap Shahi. Minutes later they were ushered out of the stage even as several speakers praised them for what they termed as “acts of chivalry”.

Modi however steered clear of even making a reference to them, even as local BJP leaders had been harping over the past few days that the two controversial legislators would be felicitated by Modi himself. Both Som and Rana had themselves gone on record to claim that they would be “honoured” by Modi.

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Image: Gujarat Chief Minister nar5endra Modi speaks at the rally in Agra
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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Modi stays away from MLAs named in Muzaffarnagar riots in Agra

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The Gujarat chief minister preferred to focus on his “development” mantra, repeatedly citing his success stories of his home state, where he claimed to have made drastic improvement in infrastructure and employment.

He, however, could not restrain himself from embarking on the traditional BJP line of condemning the Congress for allowing Kashmir to enjoy a special status.

“You have two sets of laws in this country -- one for Kashmir and the other for the rest of India,” he said, while alleging, “And that was essentially because of the Congress’ policy of appeasement.”

Accusing the Congress of also playing the “divide and rule” game , he said, “The Congress continues to ignore the more vital issues of development simply because it was only used to playing vote bank (read Muslims) politics.”

He accused the Congress of “being bothered only about 25 per cent of the population at the cost of neglect of the remaining 75 per cent.” He felt, “The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have also fallen in the same rut. ”

Recounting the spate of scams unearthed in Delhi over the past few years of United Progressive Alliance rule, he blamed all ills and shortcomings on the rampant corruption at the highest levels of governance in New Delhi.

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Image: Over 100,000 people braved a hot afternoon sun for more than four hours, waiting for Modi
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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Modi stays away from MLAs named in Muzaffarnagar riots in Agra

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“I am told that power generation plants with a total capacity of 20,000 MW are currently inoperational simply because of non-availability of coal. And where has all the coal gone? It has been stolen away,” he remarked while drawing the attention of the audience to the coal scam.

He asked, “The Congress leadership has become complacent towards corruption simply because it managed to ride on to power time and again,” while adding, “But will you now allow such people who have ruined your yesterday to now ruin your tomorrow?” Pat came the reply with a thunderous “no” from the crowds who repeatedly raised slogans hailing Modi.

The demand to listen to Modi was so overwhelming that BJP national president Rajnath Singh, who usually speaks before Modi, was compelled to address only after the Gujarat chief minister concluded his speech.

In a clear cut bid to endear himself to the audience, Modi made it a point to emphasise how Agra had bowled him over with a record turn-out. “The crowds here are bigger than what I witnessed in my three earlier rallies at Kanpur, Jhansi Bahraich,” he said.

Praising Agra and its magnificent Taj Mahal, he wondered, “Why have the UP government and the Centre failed to tap the tourism potential of the city?”

He said, “Even as Taj Mahal draws tourists from all over the world, the Central and state governments had failed to even think of building an airport, which could facilitate tourists in a big way.”

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Image: A Modi supporter
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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Modi stays away from MLAs named in Muzaffarnagar riots in Agra

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And in an obvious bid to take a dig at the SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had got an aerodrome built in his native village Saifai during his earlier stint as UP chief minister, he remarked, “Tell me why an airport cannot be made in Agra when a chief minister can build one in his village.”

He lamented, “This simply shows that the priorities of the governments sitting in Delhi and Lucknow were lopsided.” He highlighted the perennial problem of drinking water faced by the citizens of Agra for decades by pointing out, “I am aware of the serious drinking water crisis in this city, which has only been neglected.” 

He further made it a point to accuse successive governments of not caring to tap the industrial potential of the huge potato production in vast areas around Agra.

“If the government had set up some processing units around this region , it could have given a huge boost to potato growing farmers -- just as we have done in Gujarat today,” he pointed out.

Modi drew resounding repeated applause from audience particularly when he asked them to respond to questions raised by him largely to highlight the failures of the UPA government.

Before bidding farewell, Modi made it a point to make certain promises.

“If our government is formed this time, I can assure you that we will change the lives of  your children; the lives of millions of poor as also the life of those who languish in the villages of this country. Remember, we are not a poor nation; we have plenty but it is pilfered; and in order to bring an end to that we need change,” he said.

With a view to highlighting that his party was one with a difference, he sought to recall, “How BJP veteran Atal Bihari Vajpayee had given the nation so much over a relatively brief span of governance.”


Image: (From left) Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana --the MLAs -- who were initially booked under the National Security Act that was dropped following the court's intervention
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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Photographs: Sandeep Pal
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