The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government on Thursday launched its nationwide social welfare outreach programme ‘progress panchayat’ from village Bichor in Mewat, 100km from Gurgaon.
The gathering was chaired by Union minister of state for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi at a government school in Bichor, Punhana, one of three assembly constituencies of the Muslim-dominated belt south west of the national capital.
Naqvi, in his address to the 3,000-strong audience, mostly Muslims, invoked Pakistan, without naming it, and sought their support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “efforts” towards giving a befitting reply to “forces threatening the safety of the country”.
“We know some forces are threatening the safety of 125 crore Indians. Should we give them a befitting reply?” Naqvi’s query was met with a roar in the affirmative from the crowd. The comments came soon after the Army announced that it had carried out surgical strikes and inflicted significant casualties on terrorists and those supporting them across the Line of Control on Thursday afternoon.
“We should support Narendra Modi for whatever he has done or whatever he plans to do to teach these forces a lesson. We should be proud that we have a prime minister who is concerned about the security of the nation 24 hours,” Naqvi said.
The Union minister promised that the government at the Centre and the state led by Manohar Lal Khattar was serious in ushering Mewat towards the road to development. He said many initiatives such as a driving school and a degree college were on the cards for the district.
Hundred such programmes are planned across the country in the next few months and it is speculated that the Union government is trying to woo minorities ahead of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand. But, Naqvi rebutted the theory.
“Elections are far away. We are here to generate awareness about the development work taken up by the BJP government since it came to power,” he said.
To a question on why Mewat was chosen for the launch, Naqvi said that the district being one of the most backward, it needed more attention.
“People come before elections and then forget. We are the first party in power who has raised development issue in Mewat,” he said.
Union minister and Gurgaon MP Rao Inderjit Singh, Haryana minister Rao Narbir Singh and chairman of Haryana’s Gau Sewa Aayog Bhani Ram Mangla attended the meeting. Punhana’s MLA Rahish Khan won the 2014 polls as an independent candidate with BJP support.
Already, Congress leaders and leaders of other parties, including Hyderabad MP Asadduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, have dismissed the BJP’s plans as “vote bank politics”.