PM Modi hails ‘double-engine’ govt in UP, reaches out to farmers
Prime Minister Narendra Modi all but launched his Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign for next year’s Uttar Pradesh elections with a ringing endorsement of the state’s current Yogi Adityanath-led government even as he reached out to small farmers and Jats, both critical to the electoral prospects of any party in the state.
The PM was speaking at the event to lay the foundation stone of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh State University in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh.
In his 40-minute-long speech, Modi spoke of the contribution of Singh, a freedom fighter, social worker, and educationist and pointed out how Aligarh was on its way to becoming a hub of defence equipment manufacturing. He criticised the previous governments in UP for their poor management of the state, highlighted his government’s farm-friendly policies, and emphasised how UP was benefitting from a “double-engine sarkar,” referring to the BJP governments at the centre and in the state.
The Prime Minister’s visit to Aligarh is widely seen as the launch of the BJP (the incumbent in the state) campaign for the upcoming assembly elections in the country’s most populous state.
“As we celebrate Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav, honest efforts are being made to make the young generation aware of contributions of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh and others in our independence struggle,” said Modi, lauding Singh, a prominent Jat royal, as a visionary who donated his paternal property for the cause of education.
Singh gave land for the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). There have previously been demands for AMU to be named after him.
The Prime Minister also used the occasion to reach out to farmers. He spoke of former Prime Minister, the late Chaudhary Charan Singh, a Jat and farm leader from the state,
“Various initiatives like increasing MSP, expansion of Kisan Credit Card, improvement in insurance scheme, provision of ₹3,000 pension are steps aimed at empowering small farmers. More than ₹1,40,000 crore has been paid to sugarcane farmers of the state,” he said.
Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state is headed for polls next year. Development, law and order, farm-related issues, health (including Covid), and employment are seen as major election issues, although caste and identity will also continue to play an important role in how people vote.
Farmers in the state are among those protesting against three farm laws that the Modi government passed last year, and the PM’s emphasis on farmers and farming in his speech is seen as an effort to limit the political damage from this.
Ahead of the previous assembly elections in the state, parts of West Uttar Pradesh witnessed communal riots that divided the farmer vote between Jats and Muslims. The farm protests have united the two communities, though.
Some analysts see the recognition of leaders such as Singh by the BJP as part of an attempt to woo Jat voters.
“The India of the 21st century is correcting the mistakes of India of the 20th century. Our regime is making honest efforts to communicate the contributions by the greats like Maharaja Suheldev, Sir Chotu Ram and Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh to the younger generation,” said Modi.
Showering praise on the Yogi Adityanath-led government in UP, the PM said: “Uttar Pradesh is emerging as a favourite place for investors from country and the world. The state is becoming a great example of double-engine government providing double benefit to the masses with BJP, both in the state and at the centre.”
The “double-engine” has been a consistent political pitch for the BJP and Modi in almost all assembly elections since 2014.
“Investments come when a conducive environment is provided. UP, once considered a hurdle in the country’s growth, has now begun leading the race to growth and this is a matter of pride” emphasized Modi.
Talking about the defence corridor, the prime minister stated that India was on its way to transformation from a big importer of defence equipment to become an exporter of defence goods.
He also drew an analogy between the famous locks of Aligarh and the defence corridor, saying that Aligarh, which once made locks that protected people’s homes is now contributing towards protection of country’s borders as well. PM Modi announced ₹9000 crore for the development of BrahMos missile at the defence corridor’s Lucknow node.
Taking a swipe at the opposition Samajwadi Party, the PM said people cannot forget all the scams that took place in UP, when the party was in power from 2012 to 2017.
“Uttar Pradesh was run by gangsters and mafias before 2017, but now things have changed under chief minister Yogi Adityanath and such elements are behind bars,” said the PM highlighting that 80 million people had been inoculated in Uttar Pradesh free of cost and the state holds the record for maximum vaccinations in a day.
Rahat Abrar, a political analyst and retired HoD, Urdu, at AMU, said the Prime Minister’s speech is the beginning of the BJP’s campaign in the poll-bound state.
“The PM’s speech initiated the campaign for the party in the all-important western Uttar Pradesh, which is believed to be most affected by farmers’ agitation against three farm laws. The western UP belt is dominated by Jats and there couldn’t have been a better way to address Jat voters than by praising Raja Mahendra Pratap singh – a prominent Jat leader,” said Abrar.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who also spoke at the event, praised the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he has led the country in its fight against Covid-19 by giving two ‘swadeshi’ vaccines and vaccinating 750 million people (so far) in the country.
“While the world struggled in its fight against Covid-19, the prime minister led the nation and created an example to be followed by others,” said Adityanath who also praised the Union government’s New Education Policy.
“Now, all parties are in election mode. The BJP fought the last UP elections with Modi as the party’s face. Now, it seems the party is going to deploy the ‘double-engine’ idea with Modi-Yogi as a combination. The combination certainly looks formidable against the fragmented opposition,” said Prof SK Dwivedi, a political expert and the former HoD, political science, Lucknow University.