January 29, 2017 2:02:09 am
MINUTES BEFORE sunset and wrapping up his first election speech in Goa on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi glanced at Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and then, looking at the crowd, said a loud “thank you” for giving the country such a “mazboot (strong) Raksha Mantri”. It was the first instance when the crowd, assembled from all parts of the state, whistled without any prompting. The loudest cheers on the ground had come minutes earlier, when Parrikar spoke of Goa being the state giving the cheapest petrol bill. Addressing the crowd in a jocular manner, Modi said that Parrikar wants him to wrap up the speech in time, as Defence Ministry has strict rules and wants the chopper to take flight before sunset. “And even I have to listen to your Raksha Mantri,” he chuckled.
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At 31 minutes, this was perhaps Prime Minister Modi’s shortest election speech this season —- he asked the crowd to vote for stability, for good governance, and appealed them to give the BJP a “comfortable” majority. “Give us a comfortable majority,” he said. “If you give us a comfortable majority, I promise you we will make Goa the most comfortable state.” Equating himself with a cricket enthusiast watching the game on TV and picking up nuances missed by a spectator in the stadium, he said, “I watch this state minutely, sitting at a distance — as far as Delhi. I am often overwhelmed at the scope and the manner in which the current dispensation has conducted overall governance.” Stating that there has been a “bimaari (illness)” associated with the state for long, he said, “Sabse badi bimaari hai asthirtha (the biggest malady is instability)”, where legislators were busy trading seats, and the state was forgotten before the BJP formed government.
“In 10 years (of Congress-led governance), you have seen a dozen chief ministers. In 10 years, the maximum should have been two. Every time I feel the government was busy waiting for the next shapath samaroh (swearing-in ceremony). This left Goa behind.” The Congress, he claimed, “liked this asthirtha”, as it suited the party. In a speech focussed on “five years of Goa’s progress”, “stable government”, and “BJP-led infrastructure development”, Modi spent the maximum time speaking on the state’s position as a lead tourism hub. “Many people had thought that tourism would take a huge hit by demonetisation,” he said, adding, but “un logon ki bolti band ho gayi (such people went mum). The benefits and business continued eve after Diwali.”
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The development, the PM said, was made possible because the state government has connected with the Centre on infrastructure proposals specially designed to facilitate tourism, and the Central government brought visa-friendly rules and regulations. “A tourist feels it is easy to visit us now. Many countries now have visa on arrival and e-visa; tourists love these aspects,” he said. “If any one state has benefited from this, it is Goa,” he said. On the Budget, to be presented on February 1, Modi said, “Some people are (already) busy drafting their analysis, a message they will give, saying it’s a poll gimmick. They are calling economists, reading materials, and researching. They are putting more effort than the Finance Minister himself. This is not correct for democracy and smooth functioning of the government.”
Taking a jibe at AAP, which is expecting to put up a good show in its first outing in Goa, Modi said, “One party has said that Punjab and Goa elections are going for polls at the same time. They claim the PMO has pressured the Chief Election Commission. This means they are preparing for defeat…. Is this the kind of issue you will fight us on? The date for elections?” “Agar umpire pe bharosa nahi karte ho toh khul ke maidan main aate hi kyon ho (why do you come on the field if you don’t trust the umpire)?”
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