Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, left, greets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi by holding a traditional Assamese Japi above his head during a public rally in Dhekiajuli, Assam, India, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021. (AP)
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, left, greets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi by holding a traditional Assamese Japi above his head during a public rally in Dhekiajuli, Assam, India, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021. (AP)

Global conspiracy will not succeed against India: PM Modi

  • In Bengal too, Modi referred to plans “aimed at hurting” India’s global image associated with tea and yoga, asserted that the country will foil such “conspiracies”, and also launched multiple road and gas projects worth about 5,000 crore.
By HT Correspondent, Kolkata, Guwahati
PUBLISHED ON FEB 08, 2021 05:39 AM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday visited two states headed for elections this summer, alleging in Assam an international “conspiracy” to defame Indian tea while accusing West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) of keeping silent on plots to “malign” the country’s image at a rally in Haldia.

In Bengal too, Modi referred to plans “aimed at hurting” India’s global image associated with tea and yoga, asserted that the country will foil such “conspiracies”, and also launched multiple road and gas projects worth about 5,000 crore. In Assam, he inaugurated an ambitious road network project, laid the foundation of two medical colleges, and backed at least one medical college and a technical institution in each state that will impart education in the local language.

“I would like to mention conspiracies that are being hatched against the country these days. In order to malign the country, the conspirators have stooped to such a level that they are not even sparing Indian tea,” Modi said in his address at Dhekiajuli in Assam, a major producer of the brew.

Though he did not elaborate, his comments came in the backdrop of Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg tweeting a controversial toolkit --- then deleting it and reposting an updated version -- in support of the ongoing farmers’ protest. One of the points reportedly mentioned there was to “disrupt yoga and chai image of India in general”, according to news agency PTI.

India says the toolkit, or the document calling for greater mobilisation of the farmers’ agitation, is linked to a pro-Khalistani group. Also, a few years ago, NGO Greenpeace claimed in a report alleged overuse of pesticides in the Indian tea industry.

“I want to tell these conspirators from Assam’s soil that the country will never allow their plans to be successful. Our tea workers will win this fight as these attacks are not capable of countering the hard work of our tea workers,” he said in his second visit to Assam in a fortnight. Modi accused opposition parties in the northeastern state of being silent on the issue.

Modi also launched the Asom Mala project -- modelled on the lines of Bharat Mala -- aimed at improving 890km of state highways. The medical colleges inaugurated by him at Biswanath and Charaideo districts -- to be constructed at a cost of 1,122 crore -- each will have 100 MBBS seats and 500-bed hospitals.

“I have a dream that each state should have a medical and technical college where education is imparted in the mother tongue of the region. Our government in Assam will set up such colleges,” he said.

Assembly elections in Assam and Bengal are due in April-May. While Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is aiming a second straight term in Assam, it has launched an aggressive campaign to oust chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s government in Bengal.

Modi arrived in Kolkata at 3:15pm and took off for Haldia in East Midnapore district in a chopper. In Haldia, he addressed a BJP rally and dedicated to the nation an LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) import terminal built by the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited.

It has been set up at an investment of around 1,100 crore and has a production capacity of 1 million tonnes a year. It will cater to the requirement of Bengal and other states in east and northeast India, according to a statement issued by the Union petroleum ministry.

Modi first addressed a rally, which was held at the helipad ground. Around 5:15pm, he proceeded to attend the government programme in Haldia. CM Banerjee did not attend the inauguration although she was invited. The state government remained tight-lipped on her absence.

“Plans on how to defame India, how to damage its image are being hatched. The desperation of the conspirators is such that they are talking about attacking the India’s image associated with tea...the yoga, which is a heritage of India, is also being attacked. Have you heard Didi (as CM Banerjee is called) saying anything on this?” Modi said at the rally, asking opposition parties if they were supporting such conspiracies.

“When people are capturing property with government’s help and indulging in violence, how can youth get jobs? If you ask about your rights, she (CM Banerjee) gets irritated…No matter now much poison is spread by enemies of the nation, she is not bothered,” Modi said in scathing criticism of the Bengal government.

“Those who talked of ‘maa, maati, manush’ do not have the courage to raise voice for Bharat Mata because they have criminalised politics and politicised the police administration,” Modi added.

“Maa, maati, manush ( mother, land and people)” is one of the popular slogans of Banerjee.

Referring to the language of football, a popular sport in Bengal, Modi said the TMC committed many fouls. “They have committed fouls in development and fouls on the trust of the people,” he said.

He alleged that the state was halting central initiatives and accused the TMC of having a tacit understanding with the Congress and the Left, two erstwhile rivals who have joined hands for the Bengal polls.

“Our fight in Bengal is with the TMC, but also with their hidden friends. You must have heard of match-fixing in games. The TMC is also into match-fixing with the Left and Congress. They meet secretly behind closed doors in Delhi and make plans,” he said.

Among other projects Modi launched later in the day were the 348km Dobhi – Durgapur Natural Gas Pipeline section, constructed with an investment of about 2,400 crore and part of the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga project.

Modi also laid the foundation stone of the second Catalytic-Isodewaxing unit at the Haldia refinery of Indian Oil Corporation. The unit will have an annual capacity of 270,000 tonnes.

Dibyendu Adhikari, the TMC Lok Sabha member from Tamluk in East Midnapore and elder brother of Suvendu Adhikari (a former minister in the TMC government who has joined the BJP), was present at the inaugurations.

He even went to the helipad in Haldia alongside senior BJP leaders to receive the Prime Minister.

TMC Lok Sabha member and party spokesperson Saugata Roy dismissed the allegation of “match-fixing.” “What Modi said is baseless and impossible. On the contrary, I have proof that the BJP had a secret arrangement with the Left in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Some CPI(M) leaders took money and transferred their votes to the BJP,” he said.

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