PM says Opposition parties want an unstable government at the Centre so that they can have their say at the local level.


HYDERABAD: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described the coming Lok Sabha elections as a contest between a strong Prime Minister as projected by the BJP-led NDA parties and a weak Prime Minister proposed by the Opposition parties. “The Opposition parties have a single point agenda, Modi ko hatao (remove Modi) as they don’t want a strong leadership to the country,” the Prime Minister said.

Addressing a huge rally held by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at Visakhapatnam’s Railway Grounds on Friday night, the Prime Minister, who arrived from Kanya Kumari in Tamil Nadu, said that people of the country should decide whether they wanted a strong leadership which takes India on the path of development and dignity or a weak leadership which cannot take any decision, in a throwback to pre-2014 days.

The Railway Grounds were filled with crowds. PM’s meeting started minutes after Wing Commander Abhinandan’s homecoming through Wagah. Thousands turned up to greet the Prime Minister on the recent success of the airstrikes in reply to the Pulwama terror attack. Youths held placards with love symbols and waved them throughout Modi’s speech, which set the tone for the coming election campaign.

Though the ruling TDP called for boycott of the Prime Minister’s rally, there was no impact as the locals were happy with the grant of Visakhapatnam Railway Zone only two days ago. People of the north-coastal districts have been agitating since 2014 for this railway zone as was promised in the AP State Reorganization Act. Part of Waltair and Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions were clubbed into this new railway zone.                   

As this rally came days before the election notification for the Lok Sabha elections, the Prime Minister almost presented a balance-sheet of his five-year rule and told the people not to be carried away by the Opposition parties who want an “unstable” government at the Centre so that they can have their say at the local level. “Each of them (Opposition parties) have something or the other to be afraid of,” the PM said.

Though the rally was held by the Andhra Pradesh unit of BJP to kick-start the party campaign for the LS and Assembly elections, the PM devoted most of his hour long speech to the national developments and termed the efforts made by the Opposition parties which were out to demoralise the armed forces for the sake of political benefits.

“At a time when we have isolated Pakistan before the international community and at a time when our brave jawans had taught a fitting reply to the terror camps across the borders, some of these leaders, including Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, are questioning the credibility of our armed forces and asking for evidence of the air strikes,” Modi said.

The PM asked the gathering whether they approved of 21 Opposition parties in the country issuing a statement opposing the security strategy of the country’s armed forces. “We have seen how Pakistan’s foreign minister and the media gleefully highlighted the stand taken by our Opposition parties, including the one led by Naidu,” the PM said.

The PM said that the stature of India had gone up now before the world as the country could effectively deal with the security challenges. “Earlier too, similar situations had arisen, but the then leadership hasn’t dealt with them like this. The same country, the same armed forces, the same officialdom and the same challenges, but what changed now is only the power of leadership.”

However, the PM made it clear that the power was not that of him alone, but that of the people of the country who had voted for a strong leadership in 2014. “It is not Modi who is behind this power, but your vote which gave us this mandate to deal with the issues in a firm and assertive manner and allowed us not to compromise on the issues of our national security,” the PM said.

The PM also listed out other policy initiatives of his government since recently, including allotment of 10% quota to the economically weaker sections, slashing GST on affordable houses under construction benefitting the middle classes and disbursement of Rs 6,000 per annum to farmers under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi from this summer.

“These measures are only sample, a lot will come later (after the elections). We have been able to take these decisions as we care for each and every section of our society. No single section of our society has been ignored in the last five years,” the PM said. His government’s biggest achievement was restoring hope among the people about their future which was not there before 2014.

The PM attacked Naidu for taking a “U turn” by leaving NDA and joining the Opposition camp as the latter was afraid of his corruption and wants to perpetuate his family rule in Andhra. “We, in BJP, have no baggage of family rule, but the Opposition leaders want to keep power in their family members and run dynastic politics,” the PM said.

Modi announced to the people of Visakhapatnam that his decision to grant a separate railway zone from the city was not only meant to keep a promise made to people of Andhra at the time of bifurcation of  the state, but would also spur economic growth in the north coastal region. “We have done a lot for Andhra in the five years, though this was supposed to be done in 10 years,” he said.

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