Narendra Modi addresses a gathering of Dawoodi Bohras in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, highlights govt’s clean image and welfare measures.
New Delhi: You know Indian politics is heating up and crucial elections are around the corner when Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a large minority community gathering and Congress president Rahul Gandhi flaunts his devotion to Lord Shiva.
Unwilling to let go of any platform to publicise his government’s achievements ahead of the year-end state assembly and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Modi addressed a Dawoodi Bohra community gathering in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh Friday.
The state is due to go to polls by November this year, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will find itself fighting a three-term anti-incumbency.
In a play of optics, Modi attended Ashara Mubaraka, a commemoration of Martyrdom of Imam Husain, organised by the Dawoodi Bohras — an affluent Shia sect — in Indore. This was only the second major event of the Muslim community the prime minister has attended, the previous being the World Islamic Sufi Conference at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi in 2016.
The prime minister’s move to attend the event comes after Gandhi made a much-publicised trip to Kailash Mansarovar earlier this month.
Modi, who began by claiming that Dawoodi Bohras were like family to him, spoke for around 30 minutes and used most of the time to highlight his government’s welfare initiatives, delving into great detail and making this a near-campaign speech.
“I have a long association with the Bohra community. It is my fortune that I have always received their affection,” said the prime minister.
“When I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the Bohra community supported me at each step… The Dawoodi Bohra community is playing a big role in vikas (development) mission,” he added in a bid to reach out to the community.
Soon enough, Modi began listing the welfare, pro-people initiatives taken by his government since it came to power in 2014.
“Ayushman Bharat is like a lifeline for around 50 crore poor brothers and sisters in the country. The scheme, which provides for up to Rs 5 lakh of free treatment every year, is in the trial phase,” he said.
Talking about his Swachchta Abhiyan (cleanliness mission), Modi said when he came to power, only 40 per cent houses had toilets but the figure has now risen to 90 per cent.
Under opposition fire over alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal and the recent controversy around fugitive business tycoon Vijay Mallya’s alleged meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the PM sought to sell his government’s clean image.
Modi also spoke about his government’s flagship housing scheme, which aims to providing ‘housing for all’ by 2022.
“In the last four years, the government has been successful in conveying the message that everything should happen as per rules. Honest business persons are being encouraged through laws like GST as well as the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code,” said Modi.
The event, which was webcast live on the PM’s social media platforms, also included speeches by Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the spiritual head of the Dawoodi Bohra community and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Modi’s address came a day after he made a similar attempt to appear to reach out to the minority community, portraying his government as one that works for all.
“Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas is not just a slogan for us, it is something we practice,” Modi said, claiming “his sisters Sarita, Sabeena and Sophia” were all equal beneficiaries of his Ujjwala scheme, just as “Rahman, Ratinder and Robert” were of the electrification scheme Saubhagya.