Indian PM Modi pitches for development of 'Purvanchal' on Day 2 of Varanasi campaign
Voting for the seventh-phase of Assembly polls will take place on March 8. Photograph: (AFP)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned for the BJP for the second consecutive day in his constituency Varanasi on Sunday.
The prime minister embarked on a roadshow through the Muslim-dominated interiors of the city before ending his tour at the Kashi Vidyapeeth (University) where he addressed an election rally.
PM Modi said development of Purvanchal (eastern Uttar Pradesh) was high on the priority of the central government, and criticised successive state governments for not doing anything to develop the region.
"There is fertile land and hard working people but there is no good government," he said while addressing a huge gathering at the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth.
The prime minister said that the central government was ready to provide the required funds for development of the region but the state government must be able to properly account for the expenses.
PM Modi also blamed previous governments for the lack of development of the the historical city of Banaras (Varanasi). He said the city needed a modern makeover and "it is my dream to achieve this".
"Earlier governments did only tidbits (of development work) for Banaras with an eye on short-term electoral gains. But these tidbits won't help Banaras. The city needs a complete, modern makeover and it is my dream to turn this city into a modern world-class city," said Modi.
He said that if earlier governments had given proper attention, Kashi (another older name for Varanasi) could have become a tourist hot spot.
"People would have yearned to visit Banaras at least once," he said.
Invoking Mark Twain, the PM said the city of Varanasi was older than history itself.
"Banaras is not a city, it is a living heritage. Every Indian considers Banaras as his own," he said.
He accused the BSP, Congress and the SP of rallying against the BJP after demonetisation of high value currency notes in November last year. He also assured the people that the honest would not be harrassed by tax authorities during his governance.
The prime minister also reached out to small traders who are in significant numbers in Varanasi. He said they would not be touched by his government's drive against corruption as the politicians and 'babus' have looted the country all these years.
PM Modi hit out at the Congress for emptying the exchequer through a series of scams including the 2G, coal scam, and AgustaWestland chopper scam.
Accusing the Congress of "robbing" the country for 70 years, PM Modi said it was time the party "gave back" to the people of the country.
"I have been elected not to maintain status quo but to weed out corruption from the system and punish the guilty," he said.
"Our motto is inclusive development but the Congress, SP and the BSP have a different culture of politics that relies on development for a few," the PM said.
He targeted the Opposition once more for politicising the surgical strikes against Pakistani militants across the Line of Control by asking for proof.
"It is sad that those driven by politics wanted proof of surgical strikes, they asked so many died but did any of our men die," PM Modi said.
He also attacked the Samajwadi Party for the poor condition of the roads in the state.
"Tourism is important for Varanasi. But see what the government has done to the roads of this place. What will the tourists feel. We wanted to build roads on different stretches. But the work is slow, the state government has no intention to build roads," PM Modi said.
The Prime Minister attacked the Congress on the distribution of gas cylinders and said his government had taken the initiative to provide clean fuel to millions of poor households. Under the scheme, 55 lakh connections had already been given in the state.
He also ignored the ruling Samajwadi Party government of ignoring the development-related initiatives of the central government.
"30 lakh families in UP need houses, Centre asked the state for their list but they're sleeping; they couldn't make a list how will they make houses," Modi said.
Narendra Modi also took potshots at Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi as "delicate" people incapable of taking hard decisions while pitching himself as a grassroots leader who can develop the state.
"They are such delicate people who cannot take hard decisions. They think what if they lose what they got. I have not got anything in inheritance.
"Whatever I have got is due to the blessing of the people of Kashi. I can take hard decisions to rid the country of its problems. I have the courage to do so," the Prime Minister said.
The second day of the roadshow commenced late afternoon from the city's Pandeypur Chauraha (crossroad) with the PM's supporters chanting "Modi Modi" and "Vande Mataram" before concluding at the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth university.
In the 2012 Assembly elections, the BJP had won three of the five assembly seats from Varanasi. The Samajwadi Party had won the remaining two.
Yesterday, at an election rally in neighbouring Jaunpur district, PM Modi said he had made Varanasi his "Karya Kshetra" (area of development), claiming that the area had lost its shine under the Samajwadi Party government.
The prime minister had also slammed Opposition parties for politicising the Indian Army's surgical strikes across the Line of Control in Pakistan last year. The prime minister claimed that the Congress government had ignored the Army's demand for One Rank One Pension (OROP) for 40 years.
He had also offered at the city's famous Kashi Vishwanath and Kaal Bhairav temples.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will address three rallies in Sonbhadra, Mirzapur and Jaunpur.
The seventh-phase of Assembly polls will be held on March 8, in which as many as 46 constituencies covering seven districts of Uttar Pradesh will cast their vote.
(WION with inputs from ANI)