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From Our Correspondent
Tura, February 22, 2018
The small village of Shyamnagar under Phulbari constituency saw a sea of humanity descend upon the venue of the first ever visit of the prime minister, Narendra Modi to Garo Hills with over 70,000 people coming to witness the PM in poll bound Meghalaya.
Assuring that the BJP had a single agenda of development, the PM assuaged the sentiments of Christians relating examples of how his government had helped Christians whenever there was a situation.
"We have not remained a silent spectator to incidents where Christian missionaries and minority workers have been terrorized in conflict zones," said Modi while narrating efforts of the rescue of 46 nurses from Kerela when they were kidnapped by terrorists in the conflict zone of Iraq.
"Fr Alex Premkumar, a missionary working in Afghanistan, had been languishing in terrorist captivity for 18 long months. Even his family had given up on his being alive though we did 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 the PM was calling and also that her brother was alive," said the prime minister as he went on giving details about how his government helped to get another Christian missionary, Father Tom safely back from Yemen.
The prime minister had earlier asked the people to demand accountability from the Congress government in the state.
"Landing in Phulbari I am amazed by the support. Everywhere I see there are only people and to think that this small state can see such support is amazing. This is a call for 'Parivartan' in Meghalaya and people are yearning for change.
"For 50 years, there has been nothing. We ask you to give us 5 years and let us undo the damage of the last 50 years. Try us and if we fail, throw us out," said Modi.
"Without good roads there cannot be development but in Garo Hills roads are becoming cultivating fields due to total disrepair. In five years I assure you we will bring the change people want," said Modi.
He went on to speak about the slew of developmental funds being released annually to the state most of which he alleged was not even utilized.
"80 percent of the money spent in the state comes from the centre. Successive governments watched without taking action as funds were misappropriated every year. But when our government came to power in Delhi we sought accountability," claimed Modi.
This accountability has led to the states not being able to continue their earlier routine of siphoning funds. He also pointed out to monthly visits by central ministers under DONER to help with the development of the NE.
"After we asked for utilization of 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," stated Modi.
"We have brought Delhi to the NE and not the other way round. Earlier the visits by the central ministers were few and far between but since the past 4 years, each month a union minister visits the NE," added the PM.
The PM informed that 470 crores were given for roads under PMGSY in the villages by the central government and the NDA government at the centre had enhanced the funds for highways from 1000 crores to Rs 10,000 crores in the state.
The PM added that the people of Garo Hills had the ability to do well, provided infrastructure like roads, rail and airways are given priority by the state government.
Giving further details about the central scheme to provide affordable LED lights and electricity to the poor which led to the distribution of 3,30,000 LED bulbs at affordable pricing and the sanction of 100 crores for affordable housing for the poor. The same has, according to the PM saved Rs 20 crores in electricity bills.
"Despite the centre releasing the money to construct 21,000 houses for the poor, the Congress government has stalled the construction of close to 16,000 of the sanctioned homes. We will give accountability for every rupee spent if voted to power," added the PM.
He completed his developmental speech with the recent announcement of a medical insurance scheme of five lakh rupees for the poor termed by many as 'Modicare' while asking for the BJP to be voted to power so that the benefit of the scheme could be fully utilized by people of Meghalaya.
The rally saw the presence of most BJP candidates from Garo Hills along with Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam's Health minister, Nalin Kohli and Shibun Lyngdoh among others.