Reigniting the “wounds” of the struggle for statehood, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Sunday said it was former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who gave Uttarakhand statehood while the Congress was opposing it.
“The current Chief Minister [Harish Rawat], who is now pleading for votes and posing to be an Uttarakhand lover, had said that the State would be formed over his dead body,” Mr. Modi said.
“Can you trust a man who has no sentiment for the State — a man who had said that the hills [of Garhwal and Kumaon] rather have a separate Development Authority than be given statehood?” he said at a rally in Garhwal’s Srinagar region.
Attacking the Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance in U.P., Mr. Modi recalled the Rampur-Tiraha firing case of October 1994 where the State police had opened fire on Uttarakhand statehood activists. Many activists were killed in the incident and women were raped at Rampur-Tiraha in Muzaffarnagar district.
‘SP committed atrocities’
“When the andolan [agitation] for statehood was at its peak in Uttarakhand, the women, youngsters, men, all were on the streets [demanding statehood]… In Rampur-Tiraha our women were raped, people were killed. The SP government had committed those atrocities and look at the Congress, it is now sitting in SP’s lap [in U.P.],” the Prime Minister said.
On Sunday, in his last day of rallies in poll-bound Uttarakhand, Mr. Modi reached the heart of Garhwal and Kumaon to “request” the people to vote for the BJP to “ensure development” of the “backward State”. After giving his address in Garhwal’s Srinagar, he addressed an election rally in Kumaon’s Pithoragarh town.
“Vajpayee ji formed three States [in the year 2000] — Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Uttarakhand… While Chhattisgarh, despite being a tribal area and a place affected by Maoists, has been on the path of progress owing to the BJP rule in the State, Uttarakhand still remains a backward State,” Mr Modi said, adding that Jharkhand too was on the path of development after the BJP formed a government in the State.
“Uttarakhand needs a BJP government too so that it can progress [like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand],” he said.