Gumla/Chatra, March 27: BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi peered out of his chopper before landing at Aerodrome ground in Gumla this morning and turned to his fellow passenger and BJP veteran Arjun Munda to say “Oh, bahut bhari bhir hai (Oh, it’s a good crowd)”.
Munda shared this anecdote with The Telegraph this evening hours after Modi saw, came and conquered rebel-hit hinterlands of Gumla and Chatra as a part of his Bharat Vijay rallies on a day the Maoists had called their “poll-boycott bandh”.
“Main aapko naman karta hoon (I bow my head before you),” Modi, joined by Munda, Jamshedpur East MLA Raghubar Das and Lohardaga Lok Sabha nominee and sitting MP Sudarshan Bhagat, was fulsome in thanking the Gumla’s 10,000-strong crowd for braving the Maoist diktat.
“Iss maidan mein umri hui bhir ko dekh kar hum keh sakte hain ki loktantra banduk par bhari parta hai (Seeing crowds here, one can conclude democracy is stronger than the gun),” he said, the crowd of supporters, comprising women and first-time voters in large measure, cheering NaMo zindabad.
Despite bandh and scorching heat, people in Gumla and Chatra came in mini buses, vans, bikes or on foot.
Enthusiasm stayed high throughout Modi’s 25-minute speech in Gumla that pilloried Maoists for being “killers of democracy” and the Congress regime for failing to usher in development.
Referring to Mahatma Gandhi’s doctrine of non-violence and urging Maoists to put down guns and take up pens and ploughs, he turned his attention to the Congress. “This general election is now a tornado ready to destroy those who have destroyed this country and looted its resources,” he indirectly targeted Congress.
“Autumn is on the wane. The country will see spring from May 16. I am seeking only five years to perform and to serve you,” he added, hard-selling his performance as chief minister in Gujarat.
Blaming Congress for Jharkhand’s underdevelopment and wresting statehood creation from the JMM at one go, Modi said: “India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlalal Nehru ridiculed the demand of Jharkhand as separate state. The BJP supported the cause and Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji had taken the bold step in 2000 (to carve the state out). It was the BJP which established a ministry for the welfare of tribals.”
Going local, he cracked a jibe at the UPA.
“You have heard of income tax, now learn about Jayanthi Tax,” he said, referring to former Union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan who was forced to resign from the Manmohan Singh government last year, allegedly for arbitrary objections and rent collection in the name of environment clearances.
“Mines and minerals became biggest source of corruption in UPA rule, including Jharkhand. To get environment clearance, people are forced to pay bribes even to mine coal for thermal power units. Gujarat has a very small mineral deposit but my government brought transparency in mining,” he added.
He added: “When I started Banbandhu Kalyan Yojana in Gujarat I christened the centre after legendary Birsa Munda of Jharkhand, who set an example of patriotism.”
In Chatra, Modi who faced a turnout of some 25,000, including a large number of women and girls, took a dig at the Hemant Soren government “running with the blessings of Sonia but failing to put a check on crime against women”.
“Why to vote for those who born with silver spoon in the mouth? Vote for a person like me who was a tea seller,” he thundered at Baba Maidan, 2km from Chatra township around 1.25pm.
Touching on local sentiment to help swing votes in favour of Chatra’s BJP nominee Sunil Singh, he added: “This a backward place with people migrating to cities or taking the wrong path. The Congress ruled the country for 60 years and I am asking for 60 months only. BJP ke sarkar chuniye, main aap ko vishwas dilata hoon ki main aapke zindagi mein mithas bhar dunga (Choose the BJP and I will fill your life with sweetness.),” he said to huge applause.
Earlier in the day, Modi landed in Ranchi’s Birsa Munda Airport on a special flight at 10.20am from where he boarded the chopper with Munda and Das for Gumla and then Chatra. Chatra rally ending at 2pm, Modi left for Bihar’s Naxalite-hit Sarasam and Gaya. Chaos erupted at the Gaya venue, reportedly, as crowds rushed into a media enclosure.