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Was Not a Mute Spectator When Christian Minority Workers Were Terrorised in Conflict Zones: PM in Meghalaya

Addressing a poll rally at Shyamnagar village in Phulbari of West Garo Hills district, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the people to demand accountability from the Congress government in the state and spoke about the funds being released annually to the state for development purposes, most of which, he alleged, was not even utilised.

PTI

Updated:February 23, 2018, 12:01 AM IST
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Was Not a Mute Spectator When Christian Minority Workers Were Terrorised in Conflict Zones: PM in Meghalaya
Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures during his speech at a campaign ahead of Meghalaya Assembly elections at Phulbari on Thursday. (PTI Photo)
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Phulbari (Meghalaya): Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a poll rally in Phulbari on Thursday, batted for the development of Meghalaya and said the north-eastern state was not safe in the hands of the Congress.

He appealed to the people to give the BJP a chance to "serve the state" and assured them that the party had the single agenda of development.

The 60-member Meghalaya Assembly is scheduled to go to the polls on February 27.

In a bid to reach out to the majority Christian population of Meghalaya, Modi said the Centre did not remain a "silent spectator" when missionaries and workers of minority communities were terrorised in conflict zones.

Modi's rally at Shyamnagar village in Phulbari of West Garo Hills district was the first in the state by a prime minister.

"For 50 years, there has been nothing. We ask you to give us five years and let us undo the damage of the last 50 years. Try us and if we fail, throw us out.

"Give us (BJP) a chance to serve the state. We will ensure good governance, guided by the philosophy of sabka saath, sabka vikas...I promise you that a BJP government in Meghalaya will account for every rupee spent," the prime minister said.

Without good roads, there could be no development, he said, adding that in the Garo Hills, the roads had become cultivating fields due to their total disrepair. "In five years, I assure you that we will bring the change the people want," Modi said.

"Wherever I see, there are only people and to think that there can be such a huge support (to the BJP) in this small state is amazing. This is a call for parivartan in Meghalaya and the people are yearning for a change," he added.

Reaching out to the Christian population, Modi said, "We have not remained a silent spectator when Christian missionaries and minority workers were terrorised in conflict zones."

He cited examples of how the BJP-led government at the Centre had helped rescue 46 nurses from Kerala when they were abducted by terrorists in Iraq.

"Father Alex Premkumar, a missionary working in Afghanistan, had been languishing in terrorist captivity for 18 long months and even his family had given up on his being alive, but we had not. Our government worked tirelessly to ensure his safe return and when I called his sister to inform her about his rescue, she could not believe that the prime minister was calling her and that her brother was alive," Modi said.

He also mentioned the help extended by his government to Father Tom to get him safely back from Yemen.

Modi urged the people to demand accountability from the Congress government in the state and spoke about the funds being released annually to the state for development purposes, most of which, he alleged, was not even utilised.

Stating that 80 per cent of the money spent in the state came from the Centre, Modi said, "Successive governments watched without taking action as funds were misappropriated every year. But when our government came to power in Delhi, we sought accountability."

This step by the BJP government at the Centre led to the states not being able to continue with their earlier routine of siphoning funds, he alleged and pointed to the monthly visits by central ministers under the Ministry of DoNER to the north-east.

"After we asked for utilisation of the funds and later insisted on spot inspection of the project sites, the Congress government in Meghalaya is now reluctant to seek project funds from New Delhi," Modi said.

Hitting out at the Congress government in the state, he said, "There is a long list of scams to the credit of the state government and Meghalaya is not safe in the hands of the Congress'' and alleged that the state government was involved in a scam in the recruitment of teachers.

The BJP-led government, Modi claimed, had brought Delhi to the north-east. "Earlier, the visits by central ministers were few and far between, but in the past four years, each month a Union minister has visited the region," he said.

The prime minister said an amount of Rs 470 crore was granted by the Centre to the state for the construction of roads in villages under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), adding that the Meghalaya government was unable to spend even 50 per cent of the funds.

He said funds for highways were enhanced from Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore for Meghalaya.

Funds had also been given for the construction of 21,000 houses for the poor, the prime minister said and alleged that the Congress government had stalled the construction of about 16,000 houses.

Stating that the Centre wanted to further strengthen its "Act East Policy", Modi said it would open up opportunities for the people in the north-east.

"We have planned to spend around Rs 180 crore for building the new Shillong airport. It will boost the possibilities of industrial development, besides generating employment opportunities for the common man," the prime minister said.

Pointing out that Meghalaya had an immense potential in tourism, he said, "No efforts were ever made to strengthen the sector. We will ensure that more and more tourists arrive here. This will generate income opportunities for the people."

Taking a dig at Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, he said though the CM was a doctor himself, the healthcare sector was in bad shape in the state.
| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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