Narendra Modi in Silchar on Saturday. Picture by UB Photos
Feb. 22: Narendra Modi, on his second visit to the Northeast ahead of the Lok Sabha election, today talked tough about the Chinese threat and migration from Bangladesh.
Addressing a rally at Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate said the expansionist mentality of China was not acceptable, while in another rally at Silchar in Assam he said Bangladeshis who had come with “political motives” would be sent back to their country if the BJP comes to power.
Playing up to the strong local sentiment against Chinese aggression, Modi said, “I swear in the name of this soil that I will never allow the state to disappear...to break down or to bow down. No power in this world can snatch away our territory.”
“The world has changed. China will have to shed this expansionist mentality. Only the development mentality will do,” Modi, clad in the traditional attire of an Arunachali tribe, said.
Members of a clan of the Adi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh had a reason to smile today when Modi spoke of a link between them and his own family.
“There must be some relation between the clan and my ancestors as they have the same surname,” he said at Pasighat, the headquarters of East Siang district, which shares its boundary with Upper Siang and West Siang districts, which border China.
“The Modi clan of the Adi tribe, with a population of around 7,000, must be related to Modis of Gujarat. It could be established if one looks into the history,” the Gujarat chief minister said.
In his second rally at Ramnagar locality of Silchar in Assam’s Barak Valley, Modi focused on migration from Bangladesh — an issue that both the ruling Congress and the BJP bank on during election campaigns.
Talking about barring voting rights to D (doubtful) voters, the BJP stalwart took a potshot at the Congress. “Whenever the Congress feels that it will lose the election, it stamps people as D-voters and snatches their voting rights. For fair and unbiased elections, I appeal to the Election Commission to revoke the stamp of D-voter from those who have become political victims. They should get their voting rights,” he added.
The Election Commission had barred about 1.5 lakh D-voters from casting votes till the cases regarding their citizenship were settled in the Foreigners Tribunals and the courts.
He said, “There are Hindu people who came from Bangladesh and who really suffered there. It’s our responsibility to rehabilitate them here. We shouldn’t put an extra burden on Assam for that. We should restore their lives and try to settle them in different parts of the country.”
The BJP has been opposing action against Hindu migrants from Bangladesh. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, in an attempt to spoil the BJP’s tactics, recently announced that the state government would submit a proposal to the Centre, seeking refugee status for Hindus who had migrated from Bangladesh following persecution.
Modi also accused the Congress of not doing anything for tea garden workers even after 150 years of establishment of the industry.
“The tea garden workers who came from different parts of the country and gave their entire lives and even generations to this industry are still in a very poor state. They should get houses, food, proper education and honour. With the help of the tea industry, India is earning millions and billions. It’s the responsibility of the Centre and the Assam government to enhance the quality of life of the labourers,” he said.
He alleged that the Congress was creating a divide between the Barak and Brahmaputra valleys with its “stepmotherly” attitude towards Barak Valley.
Modi also accused Gogoi of not fulfilling promises made during the last election. “When your chief minister hears that I am coming, he gets nightmares. I heard he (Gogoi) came here two days ago and again promised things he couldn’t fulfil in three years. You trusted him but didn’t get anything.”
On his maiden visit to Tripura, Modi addressed an impressive turnout at Swami Vivekananda ground in Agartala. Taking the dais at 3.30pm, he spoke of the state’s history and politics from the stormy days of its merger with India on October 15, 1949.
He also referred to Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who had composed two dramas and a novel based on episodes of Tripura’s history, and to eminent scientist Jagdish Chandra Bose who had been liberally helped by Tripura king Radhakishore Manikya.
Modi trained his political guns on the Third Front, comparing it with Siberian migratory cranes. “They suddenly emerge before elections. Later, you will never find Front constituents commenting on crucial national issues. This time is no different. You will find the Third Front wallahs very active till the Lok Sabha polls and defaming the BJP but once elections are over they will disappear,” Modi said.
He also spoke of Tripura’s potential for growth in many sectors of the economy. “Tripura is gifted by nature for rubber cultivation but this can grow at an optimum level only when modern science and technology is applied here. We have achieved more than 10 per cent agricultural growth in Gujarat annually over the past decade and this has been possible because of correct application of scientific methods and techniques,” he said.
Urging people to cast their votes for the BJP, Modi said, “Mata Lakshmi sits only on the lotus and make sure that in your state the goddess takes her seat on the lotus by giving both the Lok Sabha seats to the BJP.”