Jagraon, Punjab: The NDA’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, while addressing a mammoth rally here today, did not speak on the 1984 genocide victims, greater devolution of central funds and special package for the border state. These demands were raised by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at the rally.
The two, holding the Congress directly responsible for the Sikh Genocide, had demanded that once the NDA comes to power, fast-track courts should be set up to try those accused in the genocide and to re-investigate cases where perpetrators of the “genocide” had been let off. They had pointed out that Punjab had been discriminated against by the Congress-led UPA Government by giving tax concessions to neighboring hill states, despite the sacrifices made by Punjabis in defending the country and making the country food surplus.
Modi chose not to respond to these demands. Instead, he tried to woo the people by declaring that Sikh farmers in Kutch would not be displaced. Modi and BJP president Rajnath Singh projected the NDA as the real representative of the farming community. “These Sikhs have as much right over Gujarat as I have and they will never be displaced from their fields. We owe it to them for cultivating fields on the dry and arid Kutch land. Any officer found harassing these farmers will have to go,” Modi declared. Carrying further the NDA’s pro-farmer campaign, Modi promised to divide the FCI into three divisions-procurement, storage and distribution. He said tonnes of foodgrain was rotting in the open. This was deliberate so that the rotten grains could be sold off to distilleries at throwaway rates.
Knowing well that the agrarian population in Punjab would be decisive in the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections, Modi said if elected, he would ensure uniform development in agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors. He emphasised value addition in agriculture, saying “… If you grow tomatoes, you will not get a good price. But processing the tomatoes into ketchup and then bottling and marketing these, will increase its value manifold.”
Modi emphasised that the Akali-BJP alliance was symbolic of Hindu-Sikh unity. Lashing out at the Congress, Modi said, “They believe in divide and rule. but the people of Punjab have voted for development.”
Though the Badals refrained from talking about cross-border drug smuggling, both Modi and the BJP president said drug smuggling from Pakistan was a conspiracy to weaken the Indian youth.
Source: The Tribune