JAIPUR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday virtually kicked off the BJP’s campaign for the coming Assembly elections in Rajasthan, declaring at a huge public event that the state polls and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be fought only on the development agenda. Launching a scathing attack on the Congress, Modi said people had started calling the party ‘bail gaadi’ as many of its leaders and erstwhile ministers were on bail. Billed as the PM’s interaction with beneficiaries of government schemes in recent years, the rally at Jaipur’s Amroodon ka Bagh was attended by over two lakh people brought from all corners of the state at government expense.
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje virtually acted as the master of ceremonies and moderated the entire event. The BJP hopes the rally will help minimize the anti-incumbency mood that has seen the party lose recent bypolls in Rajasthan. Rajasthan is due for Assembly elections in the next six months but a large portion of farmers in the state is angry as their crops have not been purchased by the government at the support price.
Modi assured the farmers that his government was working towards doubling their income by 2022 and that is why the Central government had fixed the minimum support price at one and a half times the cost price. For the first time since Raje became CM, Modi praised her openly for her contribution to the development of the state. He said that under the Raje government, nearly 80 lakh toilets had been built, 2.5 crore Jan Dhan accounts opened, nearly 6 lakh people had been provided a house and 33 lakh gas connections had been given under the Ujjwala Yojna.
The Opposition Congress has raised questions about misuse of government machinery and funds for the event. It also accused the BJP of gathering party workers for an event billed as an interaction between the PM and beneficiaries of government schemes. The Congress Chief in Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot, hit back at the PM’s barbs, saying: “With no vikas (development) in the state and no relief being announced for people, the PM simply came here to pat the CM’s back and disappointed people in the state.”