Guwahati: Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi wooed the Northeastern states on Saturday. Addressing rallies in Imphal and Guwahati, Modi spoke about all the issues — lack of jobs and development, the recent death of Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Taniam in Delhi, and Assamese tea — to strike a chord with the northeastern people during his first visit to the states after being named PM-nominee. Modi also criticised the Congress for forgetting Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Patel's aide and former Assam chief minister Gopinath Bordoloi.
"Vallabhbhai contributed immensely to protect the nation and its integrity. But the Congress is not ready to accept this reality. The government in Delhi is always busy worshiping one family," Modi told a crowd of about 1.5 lakh people at a rally in Guwahati. "I'm often asked by Congress leaders why I'm building such a big statue of Vallabhbhai when I belong to RSS and BJP. Let me assert that to them, Vallabhbhai was a politician and a mere party leader but to us, he was a leader of the nation. The Congress won't understand this sentiment."
Modi credited Vallabhbhai and Bordoloi for saving Assam from becoming a part of Pakistan during partition. "We believe Bordoloi should have been conferred with the Bharat Ratna. But if the Congress cannot remember a great man like Vallabhbhai after independence, how will it remember Bordoloi?"
The Gujarat chief minister also played up his connection with Assam tea. "Assam energises millions of people in India every day with her tea, the beverage that I once brewed for a living. But the state is one of India's most impoverished besides being scarred by violence and bloodshed. The prime minister has been representing the state for 23 years, a huge investment which the people made. But if the condition of the state is so bad, what can we say about the country?" Modi said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been representing Assam in the Rajya Sabha since 1991.
Earlier in the day, Modi promised people better job opportunities and development. He also said that the death of Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Taniam in New Delhi was a 'national shame'. "I hope the Central and Delhi governments come out of the blame game they are playing and do justice in this case," he said.
Meanwhile, in Gujarat, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi attacked the Modi government for being pro-rich. "They (BJP) take the entire credit for development of the state. This state needs a government for poor people. We talk about removing poverty, but they remove poor people," Rahul said in Bardoli. He also launched a direct attack at Modi when he said: "Somebody makes tea, some drive taxi, some work in farms. We have to respect everybody. The tea vendor, the farmers and the labourer. But one who makes a fool of people, should not be respected."
(With agency inputs)