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Give all 14 seats, get development

Narendra Modi with BJP national president Rajnath Singh at the rally on Sunday. Picture by Prashant Mitra

Ranchi, Dec. 29: BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi today wooed Jharkhand with the promise of development, but also wanted the tribal state, known for its fractured mandates, to hand his party all 14 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

In his first rally after getting a clean chit from a Gujarat court in a 2002 riots case, a visibly smiling Modi addressed some 2.5 lakh audiences in Ranchi in tribal dialect: “raure man ke johar (I greet you all)”.

Named Vijay Sankalp Rally, the stage for Modi was modelled on the Indian Parliament at the heavily-guarded Dhurwa grounds — the Patna blast scare too recent and too close for comfort.

In this backdrop, Modi kept his 36-minute address direct and simple.

“In a person’s life, the age between 13 and 18 is very important. That’s when a person develops mentally, physically and intellectually. Jharkhand has turned 13 years old now and the coming five years will be very important for the development of this state. Jharkhand will require Delhi’s support,” he said.

Dismissing the Congress and the UPA at the Centre as “unable to change the fate of Jharkhand”, he appealed to the people to vote for the BJP.

“There are 14 seats in Jharkhand and elections are due in 2014. Give us all the 14 seats and we will shape the future of the state. Don’t waste even a single because we have a fight ahead against poverty,” he said.

He reminded Jharkhand that “precious years were lost”. “The state could not develop despite being rich in resources. Chhattisgarh was formed with Jharkhand, but the former is flourishing as people chose development as an answer to every problem and trusted in the BJP,” he said.

It was clear that Modi had done his homework well. He correctly spelt the names of legends of Jharkhand. He also hit hard at the present JMM-Congress-RJD state government for its inability to resolve the local sand mining issue.

Then, tongue dipped in vitriol, Modi launched a tirade against the UPA, the Congress, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress scion Rahul Gandhi. However, instead of name-calling, he took refuge in allusions.

He referred to the UPA government as one that has “lost wisdom, vision and morality to accept responsibility”.

“They are not even ready to take bare minimum responsibility of controlling prices, educating children and providing meals for the poor. They refrain from taking responsibility for corruption. They merely speak,” he said.

Terming the Congress as bojh (liability) on the nation, he said: “The party is now facing total disconnect from the people and their sentiments. The party is running away from responsibility.”

He accused the Prime Minister of being insensitive to price hike. “Two-and-half-years ago the Prime Minister had appointed me as chairman of a committee to give advice on how to control price hike. The PM praised my report but took no action on it,” he said.

He alluded to Congress party vice-president as an akashvani — a celestial voice in the sky — who voiced dissent on a number of issues but took no responsibility.

Speaking on a “broad development agenda for all”, jobs for youths, water for farmers, control over price and inflation, development of tribals and so on, he cautioned people against the bogey of communalism.

As the crowd roared its approval, Modi termed the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as a kind of people’s movement against the Congress.

He did make a faux pas, referring to Uttrakhand as Badrinath — among the state formed in the year 2000 — but corrected it himself, laughing at it. By then, he had the audience eating out of his hands. “Flow mein bolne par chhoti moti galtiyan ho jati hain, (Such slips of tongue happens when you are in the flow),” someone was heard saying in the crowd.

BJP president Rajnath Singh, who spoke briefly, paid lavish compliments to the Gujarat chief minister for having come out victoriously from “attempts” to enmesh him in 2002 riots cases.

“You (the Congress) may hatch new conspiracies...but nothing will come out of it. Modi will come out clear and take over the reins of this country like Ram did after 14 years of exile.”