The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Thursday appealed to the Maoists to follow non-violence and stop spilling of the blood of innocent people in the country.
He was addressing the Bharat Vijay Rally at Gumla, which is a highly Maoist affected district in Jharkhand, around 100 kilometers west of capital of Ranchi.
"Don't arm the gullible youth with guns," the Gujarat chief minister exhorted.
"Instead, pick up the plough and distribute it among youngsters for you need to feed scores of people who sleep hungry in this country. Also ensure the youth picks up the pen as only education can lead to progress and development in the villages," he stressed.
Modi addressed two rallies in Jharkhand - in Gumla and Chatra - on a day when the Maoists declared a bandh protesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and to stress their demand for poll boycott.
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The Election Commission of India has identified 23 districts in the country as highly sensitive in terms of left wing extremism. Eight of them are in Jharkhand and they include Gumla and Chatra.
In the morning, state BJP leaders seemed a worried lot as the Maoists bandh call had adversely impacted movement of public transport thereby leaving the supporters stranded in their districts.
However, by the time Modi arrived, supporters were rushed in from neighbouring districts filling the ground to its capacity at both the venues.
The bandh, however, kept the fairer sex indoors. Presence of women was virtually negligible in both the rallies.
In Chatra, presence of around 10,000-odd supporters despite the bandh was unprecedented, but compared to other Modi rallies, it was one of the lowest turnouts.
"The Maoists have once again dared democracy trying their best to disrupt and fail this rally. I salute you all who have gathered here defying the bandh and affirming your faith in a democratic set up," he told the gathering as his supporters cheered on.
The BJP's prime ministerial candidate appealed to the youth to caste vote defying the fear of bomb and guns.
He blamed the Congress government for improper execution of counter-insurgency action plan which he said has allowed the Maoists to spread and indulge in wanton killings.
Modi said former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee created Jharkhand carving it out of Bihar despite huge protests from Lalu Prasad and other leaders hoping that the local people would exploit the vast mineral wealth hidden in the state to fight poverty and end corruption with firm resolve.
"Unfortunately, the ministers at the Centre have exploited these mines for their personal gains. The mines have become a strong source for corruption. Big Congress leaders have been found guilty of looting the mineral wealth," he said.
Modi declared the Congress manifesto a farce alleging the promises made in their 2004 and 2009 manifesto have not been fulfilled yet.