MEERUT: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday likened his first election rally in Uttar Pradesh with India's first war of independence in 1857, saying it was a fight against the British then and now it is a battle against poverty and the state's rulers who have obstructed growth and development.
"The first war of Independence began here in Meerut in 1857. Then the fight was against the British and now the war is to eradicate poverty," Modi said, addressing a well attended gathering of BJP supporters here.
The Prime Minister said despite Uttar Pradesh having so much potential for development, youth from the state were still being forced to look for employment opportunities in other states of India.
He said his government wanted "to do so much for Uttar Pradesh but could not because the state government has been obstructing" his developmental initiatives.
"Every initiative (of the central government for Uttar Pradesh) gets stuck in Lucknow," he said.
Targeting the BJP's political rivals in Uttar Pradesh, the Prime Minister also added that "Scam" is an acronym for Samajwadi Party, Congress, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati.
Addressing an election rally here, Modi said: "Do you know what 'Scam' stands for? It is 'S' for Samajwadi Party, 'C' for Congress, 'A' for Akhilesh and 'M' for Mayawati."
Targeting the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, Modi said that till a few months back the Congress was taking out rallies across Uttar Pradesh and accusing the ruling Samajwadi Party of corruption and neglecting farmers, but the two have now "embraced each other".
"What changed overnight that the two arch rivals embraced each other? This is to save themselves. Those cannot save themselves, how would they save Uttar Pradesh?" Modi said.
He also asked the people here to vote for the BJP and repeat the history that voters in Uttar Pradesh, which sends the largest number of 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha, created by helping him win the 2014 elections and form the government at the centre.
While adressing the Parivartan Rally here, Modi said he had tried to do whatever he could for the development of Uttar Pradesh but still a lot remained to be done.
"But for the development to happen, you will have to remove the state governments that scuttle development. Otherwise, howsoever hard I try to help Uttar Pradesh, the funds from Delhi will be stopped at Lucknow," Modi said.
Modi said the central government gave Rs 4,000 crore to the state government in 2014-15 to spend on improving healthcare services but the state government "failed to spend even Rs 2,500 crore" of the amount.
"And they are not even willing to give the details of where they spent the money," Modi said.
The BJP won 71 Lok Sabha seats from the state in the 2014 polls. The party has only 40 lawmakers in the 404-member assembly (one member is nominated), where BJP has not been voted to power in the last 12 years.
Uttar Pradesh goes to the hustings in seven phases from February 11 to March 8.