Ranchi, Aug. 21: Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to Jharkhand’s capital today armed with mining, power and IT gifts, three months after the tribal state presented him 12 out of its 14 MPs, his 20-minute speech marked with thunderous applause proving that the honeymoon was going strong.
“Moi Lok Sabha chunav kar pehle Jharkhand aai rohon, e bahut sundar prant heke, dhani prant heke, lekin aadmi man garib ahain (I came to Jharkhand many times before Lok Sabha polls for campaigns. It’s a beautiful and rich state but people are very poor),” the Prime Minister, in Nagpuri, reminded the 50,000-plus crowd at Dhurwa’s Prabhat Tara Ground of the dichotomy that has been the state’s lot since inception, the unsaid implication being that in the right political hands, it could change.
Sharing the dais with party colleagues such as Union ministers Piyush Goyal (power, coal and new and renewable energy), Ravi Shankar Prasad (law and IT) and Dharmendra Pradhan (petroleum and natural gas), state Opposition leader Arjun Munda and Ranchi MP Ram Tahal Choudhary, Modi was completely at ease as he started speaking at 12.55pm.
Chief minister Hemant Soren and Governor Syed Ahmed, also on the dais, were largely silent. Hemant, speaking before Modi, was unceremoniously hooted into wrapping up his address in 10 minutes.
On the other hand, the crowds lapped up Modi’s “think global, speak local” mantra.
Asking people to parent the teenage state, Modi said: “Jharkhand has crossed 13 years and stepped into its 14th. Like parents who decide their children’s course of action till the time he/she attains 18 years, the onus is in your hands now. Ab yeh aapko sochna hai ki aapko kaisa Jharkhand chahiye ab se. (Now, you have to decide how do you want Jharkhand to be like,” he said in his 20-minute address. If this was an indirect demand for a clear mandate in BJP’s favour in the upcoming Assembly elections for the state’s achche din, it was also endearing.
Winning the Lok Sabha with a thumping majority, Modi made it a point to inform coalition-riddled Jharkhand of the benefits of a government with a clear majority — the freedom to take quick decisions without kow-towing to political compulsions.
“Just yesterday when we came to know about the long-pending mining royalty issue in Jharkhand, we immediately took a decision to hike it through a cabinet meeting. I don’t know if it has come in the media. From now, Jharkhand will get Rs 400 crore in mining royalty annually. Hemant Soren didn’t have to come to me with this plea nor has anyone approached us with a memorandum. I have personally come today with this gift that was due to this state,” he said, immediately after Hemant complained in his speech about not getting an appointment with Modi in New Delhi.
Having decimated Hemant’s complaint, Modi proceeded on his triumphal course: “Why do you think I am taking quick decisions now? It is because I have a clear mandate due to which I can act fast. Jharkhand also needs a clear mandate now.”
Political overtones apart, the Prime Minister launched six projects online from Prabhat Tara Ground comprising energy and information technology sectors, dedicating two of the ready ones to the nation.
Leading the list was the 765KV power grid by Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, a 383km power transmission line worth Rs 1,600 crore in Bero, Ranchi, built in record 18 months and one of the biggest power grids in eastern India connecting Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
Another was Indian Oil Corporation’s bulk fuel storage terminal at Jasidih, Deoghar, worth Rs 109 crore. The pipeline fed terminal will get finished products through the existing Haldia-Barauni cross-country pipeline to take care of kerosene, petrol and diesel requirements of Bokaro, Dhanbad, Giridih, Deoghar, Jamtara, Godda, Dumka, Pakur and Sahebganj.
He laid the foundation of four projects — the 3x660MW NTPC North Karanpura power plant in Chatra, National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology and a 22,000sqft incubation facilitation centre of the Software Technology Parks of India, both in Ranchi, and the countrywide National Digital Literacy Mission starting from Jharkhand.
“Aapne jo pyar diya hai mujhe, main wo vikas ke madhyam se suth samet aaj lautane aaya hoon. (I have come here today to repay all your love and affection which you showered on me with full interest through the development route). It is just a beginning,” said Modi, amid thunderous roars and claps.
Invoking BJP statesman and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Modi said: “Perhaps, I was destined to take off from where Atalji had left. Atalji created Jharkhand with a vision that this rich state would lead the nation in times to come. The foundation of NTPC’s thermal power plant was laid during Atalji’s tenure. Ironically, it remained stuck for over a decade.”
Despite the 7.2mm downpour, crowd enthusiasm was high for Modi. But, political tempers couldn’t be doused by the rain. Both the JMM and Congress were upset that Hemant’s speech earned boos, which they said was stage-managed by the BJP.