Majuli/Tinsukia: Slamming Congress for 60 years of "misrule" in poll-bound Assam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said his fight was not against Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi but "poverty, corruption and destruction" of the state.
"I have three agendas. Development, fast development and all round development," he said, addressing election rallies in Tinsukia and Majuli.
Addressing a huge poll rally in favour of BJP's chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal, Modi said 79-year old Gogoi had been projecting the Assembly elections as a direct fight between him and the Chief Minister.
"I don't want to waste time fighting an individual. I have no fight with Tarun Gogoi. My fight is against poverty, unemployment, corruption, absence of education, sickness, backwardness, Assam's destruction. I seek people's blessings to take Assam on the road of progress," he said.
"Gogoiji, in a few years you will be 90 years. You are my elder. I come to Assam to pranam (respect) you and not fight with you. According to our tradition, the elder blesses the younger. Does it become of him to fight me when he is my elder," Modi wondered.
Describing Sonowal as one his best ministers, Modi said if he becomes the Chief Minister, it will be his government's and his personal loss as Sonowal is "a bright, capable and simple person".
"There is only one 'anand' (joy) in Assam, it is Sarbananda," he said.
"You give me five years, you give Sarbananda five years and BJP and its allies will pull Assam out of its difficulty," he said.
Assam goes to polls on April 4 and 11.
BJP has partnered with regional party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodo People's Front (BPF) for the polls.
"With you I want to bring development to Assam, provide job opportunities to the youth, electricity to villages. We have given funds for development of Assam's infrastructure, railway. To fulfil the dreams of the youth I ask for your blessings," he said.
Modi said after independence, Assam was among the five most prosperous states but is among the five least developed ones now and blamed successive Congress governments for this.
He, however, made no mention of the contentious issue of infiltration, a major poll plank of BJP-led NDA, and chose to stick to his development theme and lack of progress in Assam.
Trying to connect with the people of the tea producing state, he touched on his early days as a tea-seller, saying he sold their tea to energise others and due to this he shares a special bond with the people of Assam.Asserting that his government had pumped in more funds
into the state than previous governments at the Centre, Modi wondered "how the government could fail to build a bridge from Majuli island to mainland Assam in so many years. Is it not injustice to you. Did they not feel guilty?"
For connecting the island with the mainland, he said his government has started work for a bridge over Brahmaputra river to remove the difficulties faced by Majuli's people.
Highlighting a number of developmental schemes of the Centre, Modi projected his government as one "for the poor" as he spoke about the decision to allow small shops to remain open seven days a week.
Modi said his government had electrified over 1000 of the 2000 Assam villages, where power had not reached yet.
Stating that every village should get electricity for bringing in development, the Prime Minister said even after 60 years of independence, electric poles have not reached 1,000 villages in Assam.
He said it was painful to see people not having drinking water despite the state's vast water resources, including the mighty Brahmaputra and heavy rainfall. "Congress government here is responsible," he said.
"Money was given from Delhi for building houses for the poor here. But that money has not been spent and is lying unused in the bank. If this continues, there will be no development in Assam.
"Gas is produced in Assam. Do the poor get gas in their homes here? We have decided to provide 5 crore poor gas to replace their smoky cooking stoves," he said.
When CAG asks for accounts for the money spent, this government is not ready to give it, Modi said, adding that the people would give a befitting reply by pressing the (EVM) button.
"Have heard that in Congress there is a habit of 'paisa khaneko' (taking bribe) but I didn't know Congress ate up such a beautiful island (Majuli) reducing its land area," the Prime Minister said tongue in cheek.
"From 1,200 sqkm the island has been reduced to 400 sqkm with 3/4 of its land mass lost (by erosion). They (Congress government) have no time and plans to save this island which is the largest fresh water river island in Asia, India's heritage site and one of its prime tourist destinations," Modi said.
The Prime Minister appealed to the people to vote for BJP and its alliance partners in the upcoming Assembly polls on April 4 and 11 for the protection of the island, its connectivity and all round development of Assam.