Dehradun: Ahead of the 2022 Uttarakhand Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday lambasted the Congress, saying the party had done nothing to strengthen the international border along Uttarakhand in the several decades that it ruled the country. He described the hills as “fortresses of our security.”
Speaking at an event in Dehradun to inaugurate projects worth Rs. 18,000 crore in the state, Modi drew direct comparisons between the seven years of his government at the Centre and the previous 10 years of a Congress-led government. He emphasised how his government had shown concern for the people of Uttarakhand.
“Our hills are not only the hub of our culture and faiths but also the fortress of security. Making lives smooth and easy for those living in the hills is our top priority. Unfortunately, this was never part of the policy and strategy of those who governed the country for decades,” the PM said.
“For them, Uttarakhand or any other part of India with strategic importance was never a matter of concern. Their only aim was to fill their coffers and look after their own people. Those who are disintegrating across the nation cannot make Uttarakhand and the country shine,” Modi said in a taunt aimed at the Congress.
Uttarakhand shares a 350-km border with China and a 275-km border with Nepal.
The 70-member Uttarakhand State Assembly is scheduled to go to the polls in early 2022 in what will largely be a tripartite battle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party.
The BJP-led Uttarakhand government is battling a strong anti-incumbency sentiment. The party had to replace two chief ministers in a span of four months between March and July, when the incumbent, Pushkar Singh Dhami, became the third man to take the chair in the nearly five years that the BJP has been in power in the state.
Modi’s Dehradun rally is being billed as the BJP’s attempt to flex its muscle by rolling out Rs. 18,000 crore’s worth of centrally-sponsored development projects. These include a Delhi-Dehradun economic corridor, a Haridwar ring road and a bridge across the Ganga next to the landmark Lakshman Jhula, a pedestrian bridge on the outskirts of Rishikesh.
‘The coming decade belongs to Uttarakhand’
Modi said his government has infrastructure development projects worth Rs. 100 lakh crore in the pipeline, and had already sanctioned projects worth Rs. 1 lakh crore in the past five years.
He said that, during the rule of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance at the Centre, the government had built only 288 kilometres of national highways in the Himalayan state. His government, in contrast, has already created a network of more than 2,000 kilometres of interstate roadways with a budget of more than Rs. 12,000 crore.
“We have done it and shown concern for Uttarakhand from the bottom of our hearts. I have repeatedly said that the coming decade belongs to Uttarakhand, and it’s bound to happen,” Modi said.
He added that Uttarakhand would be a torchbearer for the country in tourism development, with all villages aware of the importance of the sector and every other house willing to offer homestay services to tourists.
The PM also accused opposition parties of indulging in the politics of caste, regionalism and communal appeasement, halting the people’s development.
“They want to divide the people on the lines of caste, region or community. This way, they find an easy vote bank to nurture and continue with their divisive politics, with no concern for the people and their development,” he added.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)