Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Sunday blamed the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre for lack of development in mineral-rich Jharkhand.
Addressing a rally in state capital Ranchi, the Gujarat chief minister highlighted Jharkhand’s unemployment problem and said the central government had done nothing to bring about change.
“Chhattisgarh has developed a lot. Chief minister Raman Singh has scored a hat-trick (of assembly poll wins). Why are Jharkhand and Uttarakhand lagging behind?” Modi said at the rally, which saw a huge gathering.
The three states were created in 2000, when the BJP-led NDA government was in power at the Centre. While Chhattisgarh has been ruled by the BJP for the past 10 years, the other two have undergone regime changes. Maoist-hit Jharkhand has seen nine governments and three spells of President’s rule.
Modi, who has recently got a clean chit from an Ahmedabad court in a Gujarat riots case, also attacked the Centre over price rise.
The BJP’s PM nominee stressed the Congress had lost contact with the people of the country.
“Jharkhand’s people were heard only when (veteran BJP leader) Atal Bihari Vajpayee came to power... a separate state was created,” he said.
Heavy security arrangements were in place for the rally in the Jharkhand capital, which had grabbed the headlines two months ago for links with the October Patna blasts accused.
More than 2,500 security personnel were deployed at the venue. As many as 40 CCTVs kept an eye on the proceedings.
The Jharkhand Police were on toes to avoid a Patna-like incident. In the last week of October, serial blasts had rocked the Bihar capital ahead of a rally addressed by Modi, killing five people and leaving more than 90 injured. Probe led the investigators to Ranchi, the native place of the accused.
Earlier in the day, Modi reached the venue in a chopper after landing at Ranchi’s Birsa Munda Airport. Senior BJP leaders such as former chief minister Arjun Munda, Yashwant Sinha and Ravindra Rai, welcomed Modi amid a gathering of around 2 lakh people from across Jharkhand. The saffron party booked five trains and 2,000 buses to ferry the supporters from different districts.
The stage was a replica of Parliament building. A message ‘Mission-2014: 272 +’ was displayed at the top.
“It’s a Modi wave and the benefit of the wave will be seen in the 2014 elections in Jharkhand,” said former chief minister Munda.
The state BJP is on the back foot, with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) withdrawing its support to the Munda government in January. The JMM has now formed a government in the state with the Congress' help.
Earlier, Bhojpuri singer Manoj Tiwari enthralled the audience with patriotic songs and slogans. “India sees hope in Modi and so do I,” said Tiwari.