LUCKNOW: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech was an effort to strike a local connect with his voters in his parliamentary domain on Sunday night. He spoke mainly about corruption, development and nationalism while campaigning for the last phase of the seven-phased assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh on March 8.
He received good response to his 5-km road show, the second in two days, which was held as part of his final push to propagate the party’s fortunes in the current elections. The Prime Minister’s roadshow, which the BJP termed as ‘official’, unlike the one yesterday when he travelled in an open-top vehicle to two of the city’s most revered temples, began around 4.45 pm, almost two hours behind schedule.
“Shouldn’t corruption come to an end? It’s been so many years since we attained freedom but a small section misused their power and position,” he said in an apparent reference to the leaders who were ruling the state. He sold his development model and spelt out his priorities, especially to the people of his constituency. “I have big dreams for Varanasi,” he said, while appreciating the centuries-old heritage of the city. “Banaras itihaas se purana hai, kahawaton aur kiwdantion se purana hai (Banaras is older than history. It is older than old sayings and legends).”
He also expressed his concern over the state’s contrarian and hostile approach towards Centre’s development initiatives for UP. “The eastern part of India has to scale new heights of development,” he said, complaining that the UP government was not letting the Centre’s work show. He also accused the SP government of not being able to utilise the funds given by the Centre. “Had there been good and proper government, then the states could have flourished even further,” he said.
The Prime Minister raised his “Sabke saath vikas (development for everyone)” slogan and accused rivals Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party of working along caste and religious lines to benefit only a few. However, such accusations against the rivals may be seen as a conspicuous bid to polarise people along caste and religious lines on the poll eve.
Not forgetting to touch on the issue of demonetisation, which the BJP claims has worked for it in the current elections, the PM trained his guns at Opposition saying that the ban on high currency notes had united other parties against him. He reiterated his resolve to continue with his anti-corruption drive saying, “I want to tell all honest citizens that no one will ever trouble you. Immandar ka samman hoga (The honest will be honoured).”
Playing the surgical strikes card, he took a jibe at Congress and expressed his dismay at “how parties driven by politics wanted proof of surgical strikes and were asking if any Indian soldier died.”
Earlier, people thronged the 5-km route through which Modi’s road show passed. The BJP leadership may deny that such show of strength was an indication of its desperation but the party is, no doubt, leaving no stone unturned to put up a good show.
Five Assembly segments fall under Modi’s Lok Sabha seat which he had won in 2014 by a huge margin of 3.71 lakh votes.