In Punjab, Modi skirts Shiromani Akali Dal concerns

BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, BJP president Rajnath Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal (left) during a joint rally of SAD and BJP in Jagraon, Punjab on Sunday.

BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, BJP president Rajnath Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal (left) during a joint rally of SAD and BJP in Jagraon, Punjab on Sunday.  

Even as the speakers at the “Fateh rally” projected him as the prime ministerial candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and not just the BJP, Narendra Modi did not touch upon issues of the November 1984 anti-Sikh carnage, restoring the federal structure and demand for a special economic package for Punjab that were raised by the leadership of the BJP's oldest ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Sporting a “kesari” turban, the dignity of which he vowed to uphold, Mr. Modi utilised the opportunity to hand out an assurance that none of the Sikh farmers who had developed the border areas of the Kutch region would be displaced from Gujarat. “Officers guilty of harassing them would have to quit, but not a single farmer would have to leave the State,” he said launching a no holds barred attack on the Congress for spreading rumours to damage the unity of the country.

Mr. Modi recalled that Gujarat had a long standing association with the Sikh community as the faith's founder, Guru Nanak Dev stayed there before proceeding to Sindh. One of the first “Panj Piaras” (five beloved ones) baptised by Guru Gobind Singh while creating the Khalsa order came from Dwaraka in Gujarat.

Recalling his experience in the northern States as party's in charge in the region, Mr. Modi said that the alliance between the Akali Dal and BJP was not just political but represents Hindu-Sikh unity, which the Congress has tried in vain to sabotage through its “divide and rule” agenda.

Mr. Modi referred to Adarsh, Bofors and Coal scams of the Congress government, and said former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had accepted that just 15 per cent of the government grants reached the people in the villages. He said that if given a chance to serve, he would in fact be a “chowkidar” who would not allow any “panja” (hand) to plunder the public exchequer.

To ensure overall development of the country, Mr. Modi emphasised the need for establishing equilibrium between agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors. He sought focus on induction of new technology, encouraging new research and innovation to increase the per acre productivity of agriculture. Encouraging farmers to go in for value addition to increase their income, he said “Selling tomatoes would not fetch you good returns unless you make ketchup out of them. The returns would be better if the ketchup is packaged in a good bottle, which is marketed by a girl.”

To ensure optimum utilisation of the farmer's produce, Mr. Modi suggested the need for trifurcating the Food Corporation of India (FCI), for procurement, storage and distribution. He said that the apathy of the Congress governments towards the farming community could be gauged from the fact that food grains were allowed to rot and was given away to liquor manufacturers at throwaway prices.

Mr. Modi appealed to the Union Defence Ministry to ensure that those guarding the borders be held accountable for smuggling of drugs and fake currency, as checking infiltration alone was not their duty. He said that at no cost could the youth of the Nation be allowed to become victims of cross border drug trafficking.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal described himself as a political astrologer, who could predict the pro-Modi wave transforming into a storm that would sweep the country. Sensing the political mood of the people he said Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi would suffer defeats, in what Mr. Badal described as the “third political struggle” since Independence. He accused the Congress of providing governments that were more tyrannical to the Punjabis than the Mughals and the British.

BJP chief Rajnath Singh asked Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to explain his silence on anti-corruption issues during the tenure of the UPA government. He also criticised the Congress for not naming their prime ministerial candidate to face Mr. Modi, especially when they had sought votes in the last Lok Sabha polls for Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Akali Dal president and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh assured Mr. Modi that the alliance's candidates would win all the 13 seats in the State. He said that through unprecedented corruption and mis-governance, the Congress had pushed the country back by at least 10 years.

Mr Modi honoured the seven candidates announced by the Akali Dal and welcomed noted Punjabi film actress, Preeti Sapru into the BJP fold.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 3:56:34 PM |

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