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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Narendra Modi stresses on secularism in Northeast

PM addressed poll rally in Tura where he said central govt does not look at religion or community while extending beneficiary schemes

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 26.02.23, 02:57 AM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a rally at Tura in West Garo Hills district of Meghalaya on Friday. The campaigning ended on Saturday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a rally at Tura in West Garo Hills district of Meghalaya on Friday. The campaigning ended on Saturday PTI picture

Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that “sabka saath sabka vikash” is the BJP’s “secularism” as the party-led government does not discriminate on the grounds of religion, caste and community.

Modi was campaigning in poll-bound Meghalaya on Friday. After attending a roadshow in Shillong for the February 27 Assembly polls, he addressed a poll rally in Tura where he said that the central government does not look at religion or community while extending beneficiary schemes.

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In an apparent dig at the BJP’s rivals, Modi had similarly asserted at a poll rally near Dimapur in Nagaland earlier in the day that his government does not discriminate on the ground of religion.

“Wherever a BJP government is formed once, people keep on returning the government every time. Look at Goa. This is because the party does not discriminate on the grounds of religion, caste and community. Everyone gets benefits from the BJP (government) schemes. The BJP works 100 per cent for people’s welfare. Sabka saath sabka vikash, this is our secularism,” Modi said.

Modi’s stress on secularism in poll-bound Meghalaya and Nagaland assumes significance because both are Christian-majority states where there has been concern against attacks on churches elsewhere in the country, and also the survey that was ordered in December on churches and conversion in neighbouring Assam.

On Thursday, the Opposition Congress had asked the BJP in Meghalaya what “protection and guarantee will the BJP give to Meghalaya and other Christian states of the Northeast on the increasing attacks on churches in various parts of India. It had also asked the BJP to spell out its stand on the Assam survey on church activities, uniform civil code and anti-conversion bill.

By stressing secularism, Modi was conveying that the ruling BJP was for everyone, setting a new “secular narrative” woven around the government’s beneficiary schemes with an eye on the upcoming polls as well as beyond — the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, an observer said.

The BJP is part of both the NDPP-led government in Nagaland and the NPP-led government in Meghalaya. However, both the BJP and the NPP are contesting the polls in Meghalaya on their own. Campaigning for the polls ends on Saturday.

At the Tura rally, Modi cited providing free corona vaccines to all, and the extension of beneficiary schemes such as free ration, housing, and piped water in Meghalaya to prove his point. “We don’t see religion. We only looked at the benefit of our mothers and sisters... For the BJP, it is people first.”

Modi had similarly asserted in the rally near Dimapur that the BJP never discriminates against any region or religion, reminding the distribution of free corona vaccines without any discrimination.

Modi in his speeches in Nagaland and Meghalaya hit out at the Congress, past governments and family-based politics, as they were a hurdle in the development of both the states and the Northeast.

Alluding to the Congress in Shillong, where he attended a roadshow, Modi said: “I have seen that those who have been rejected by the country, those the country is not ready to accept ... They are saying Modi teri kabar khudegi (Modi’s grave is being dug) ... but every corner of the country is saying Modi tera kamal khilega (Modi’s lotus will bloom). People of this country will give a befitting reply to people with such vikrit manshikta (perverse mindset), using such vikrit bhasa (perverse language). Meghalaya and Nagaland are ready to give ...”

He claimed everyone in Meghalaya wanted a BJP government. “There are several reasons for this. For a long period in this region, including Meghalaya, some people have used politics for their own interests, and own families. Should pariwad go or no? Should Meghalaya be free from pariwad?”

“ ... Just like we withdraw money from the ATM, there were parties in Delhi, there are parties who have turned entire Meghalaya as an ATM to fill their pockets,” Modi said, asserting how his government has worked for the development of the state and it would become easier for him to serve Meghalaya if it has a BJP government.

In Nagaland also, Modi accused the Congress policy of “vote pao, bhul jao” and how its leaders did not look at Nagaland, alluding to the Congress top brass not campaigning in Nagaland.

Though he asserted the BJP was for permanent peace, progress and prosperity in Nagaland, he did not say anything about the Naga political issue. Modi also said after the formation of the government after March 2 (day of counting), touch action against those indulging in extortion will begin.

In Nagaland, the BJP is contesting the polls in alliance with the NDPP. The two parties were also in alliance in 2018, unseating the NPF.

Modi took a dig at the ruling NPP in Tura for denial of permission to hold his rally at the PA Sangma Sports Complex. “Your (people’s) love for the BJP has not gone down well with some people. They are losing sleep. They tried hard to see this rally did not take place. But to connect with you people of Meghalaya, people of Tura, Modi does not need a ground because people have given me space in their hearts,” Modi said at the rally held at a cricket stadium, about 8km from the Sangma sports complex.

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