Addressing a massive rally in Meerut on Sunday after laying the foundation stone of a sports university, named after hockey wizard Major Dhyanchand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the BJP government had given impetus to ‘real’ games.
Taking a dig at the Samajwadi Party, Mr Modi rhetorically said during the previous government’s rule, criminals used to play their games, and tournaments of land grabbing were common.
“Lewd comments were passed at women, houses were burnt down during riots and people were forced to leave their native homes. The BJP government is now playing ‘jail-jail’ with such criminals,” he said, once again reminding the audience of the UP Police crackdown on the infamous stolen cars market in Sotiganj area of Meerut.
Exhorting the youth to choose their role models carefully, Mr. Modi, without naming former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, said, “We should encourage the youth by all means, “but when they make a mistake we should not say, ‘boys make mistakes’.”
Speaking at the centre of West U.P. politics, Mr. Modi described the city as “a symbol of the country’s culture and might.”
Cradle of civilisation
Describing the region as an important centre of the Indus Valley civilisation and the cradle of Mahabharat, Mr. Modi went on invoking the role of the historic city in the First War of Independence and even made a reference to Chaudhary Charan Singh, calling him a “great visionary.”
While leaders from the region have often complained of being neglected by the State government and the Centre, Mr. Modi said, “both Lucknow and Delhi were just at an arm’s distance and both are keen to serve you.” He reminded the crowd that the Delhi-Meerut Expressway and the upcoming RRTS project would shorten the distance between West U.P. and Delhi and the Ganga Expressway would connect it with the eastern parts of the sprawling State.
Reiterating his praise for the Yogi Adityanath government, he spoke of the record payments to sugarcane farmers and said while in earlier regimes sugar mills used to get shut, during BJP's rule news mills had been added. Mr Modi said the region has made a record contribution in ethanol production and the government was investing in food processing and storage.
Earlier, underlining the BJP government’s agenda to develop a strong ecosystem for sports, Mr. Modi said the government had worked to make sports free of nepotism, corruption, and official indifference and towards creating an atmosphere of transparency. Invoking the Khelo India campaign and Target Olympic Podium Scheme-TOPS, he linked the government’s policies to the country’s credible performance at the Olympics and Paralympics earlier this year.
Aimed at fostering the Prime Minister’s vision of inculcating a sporting culture in the country, the state-of-the-art university will be established in an area covering Sailawa and Kaili villages of Sardhana town in Meerut at an estimated cost of ₹700 crore.
Mr Modi said the university, which is expected to train at least a thousand boys and girls every year, would help in making sports a viable career choice for youth and not just an ‘extra’ discipline, saying “It will bring a sports revolution in the country.”
Fillip to sports goods
He added that the the university would also give impetus to the sports manufacturing business in Meerut that has not only practised the credo of “vocal for local but also made the products global.”
Due to winter fog and poor visibility, the PM’s convoy travelled to Meerut by road. Mr. Modi marked the Amrit Mahotsav of India’s independence by paying floral tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives during the First War of Independence at the Amar Jawan Jyoti and visited the museum that houses memories of the revolt of 1857 in the Meerut Cantonment area. He also visited the popular Augadnath Temple, known as the spiritual centre of the mutiny.
‘Game of lies’
Responding to the BJP’s investment in sports, SP president Akhilesh Yadav charged the party with ruining the sports infrastructure developed by his party’s government. In a tweet in Hindi, Mr Yadav said, “The incumbent BJP government discontinued the Yash Bharti awards given to sportspersons in wrestling, cricket, athletics and hockey during the SP rule... The Delhi government should tell us how much it has invested in the sports infrastructure in the State.”
The public will spoil the “game of lies” of the BJP in 2022, he said.
SP ally for the upcoming elections, Rashtriya Lok Dal president Jayant Singh tweeted the order of the State’s Basic Education officer making government teachers in-charge of buses that were marshalled to bus-in crowds for Mr Modi’s rally. “This is the Yogi government’s masterstroke in improving the standards of education,” he commented.