Opening the coffers of his government for election-bound Assam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday slammed the successive Congress dispensations that ruled the country since Independence for the "neglect" of the state and the northeast for decades.
On his third visit to Assam in a month, Modi, who dedicated to the nation three major projects in the petroleum sector worth over Rs 3,222 crore, enumerated steps taken by the state government led by Sarbananda Sonowal and the Centre over the past few years for its balanced growth.
He also inaugurated the Dhemaji Engineering College and laid the foundation stone for Sualkuchi Engineering College with an initial project cost of Rs 45 crore and Rs 55 crore respectively in this town on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra.
He had unleashed a major development offensive in the run up to the state polls on February 7 when he laid the foundation of and dedicated to the nation infrastructure projects involving Rs 9,310 crore.
Again, on February 18, he had gifted a bouquet of development projects worth about Rs 10,000 crore to the state.
"Those who ruled for decades since Independence believed Dispur was too distant from Delhi. 'Dilli ab door nahi aapke darwaaze par hai' (Delhi is not far now, it stands at your doorstep," he told a massive gathering.
The previous governments adopted "step-motherly" approach to the north bank region and neglected connectivity, health, education and industry, he alleged.
"I had come earlier to Gogamuk in the state's north bank and said that Assam and the northeast will become the new growth engine of the country and now we see this belief bear fruit," he said.
The prime minister said due to sustained efforts by the Assam government more than 20 engineering colleges have been set up.
Referring to the new National Education Policy, he said its emphasis on teaching in local languages will help children from even poor families become doctors and engineers.
Modi said hardly 40 per cent families in Assam had cooking gas connections till 2014 despite the state being rich in oil and natural gas and refineries. Almost entire population of the state has now been covered under the Ujjwala Yojana and one crore women have benefited, he said.
"The gas pipelines, optical fibre networks and piped water supply initiatives are not mere iron pipes and fibre. These are the new fate lines of India," he asserted.
He said improvement in energy and infrastructure development will make life easier for the people of Assam and the northeast and create fresh job opportunities for youth.
Oil storage capacity has been strengthened for the purpose of refining and meeting emergency situations, he said.
"Assam is known the world over for its tea, tourism, handloom and handicraft. The growth of these sectors will generate more employment and strengthen the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' mission," he said.
Reaching out to tea garden workers, a solid support base of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Modi said improving their living condition was a priority of both the state and the central governments.
"With the blessings of the Brahmaputra, the land in this region is fertile. We are working for improving farm income, providing agriculturists better seeds, soil health cards and introducing pension schemes," he said.
Farm laws have been amended to ensure their produce reaches international markets, the prime minister said.
He said his government has earmarked Rs 20,000 crore for strengthening the fisheries sector and Assam will hugely benefit from it.
Modi said he will visit Assam and other poll bound states as many times as possible before elections are announced, likely in the first week of March.