VARANASI -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi today made an impassioned plea to voters to defeat SP-Congress combine and BSP, blaming these parties for the plight of Uttar Pradesh, as he wrapped up his hectic campaign for Assembly polls.
Addressing a rally at Khushipur village in Rohaniya assembly segment, 25 kms from the city, Modi, who has been campaigning in his Lok Sabha constituency here for three days, repeated the promise of waiving farmers' loans and restoring professionalism of the police force if BJP comes to power in the state.
Describing himself as a person who "has experienced poverty and therefore wants to improve the lot of the poor", the PM said his government was aiming at providing houses to every single household in the country by 2022, when the country celebrates 75 years of Independence.
Modi began his 45-minute-long speech with a special mention of Apna Dal and Bharatiya Samaj Party, which are fighting 20 of the 403 seats in UP in alliance with the BJP.
Apna Dal enjoys a following among Kurmis, the most dominant OBC group after the Yadavs, while Bharatiya Samaj Party is a breakaway group of Bahujan Samaj Party floated by Mayawati's erstwhile loyalist Om Prakash Rajbhar.
Stressing that the country's economy heavily depended on the betterment of farmers and improvement in their purchasing power, Modi said his government was also bringing in measures to ensure that incomes of those involved in agriculture doubled by 2022.
He also spoke about a scheme whereby five crore poor families in the country were to be given free gas connections by 2019.
Coming down heavily on the Akhilesh Yadav government, Modi said that in BJP-ruled states 50-60 percent farmers were covered under his Pradhan Mantri Phasal Beema Yojana but in UP only 14 per cent agriculturists were benefiting from the crop insurance scheme.
Lambasting the SP government in the state for "nepotism and corruption" in competitive exams, the Prime Minister said, "I took the decision to do away with interviews for recruitments at lower levels. This was aimed at curbing malpractices. But Akhilesh Yadav is not willing to take a cue as he wants jobbery to flourish."
Modi said the people of UP "should beware of both bua and bhateeja (aunt and nephew terms used by Mayawati and Akhilesh to describe each other)". He asserted that only BJP could restore law and order in the state where "women are afraid to go out of their homes unless accompanied by a male member of the family".
The Prime Minister, who returned to New Delhi after the rally as the campaigning for the final phase culminated today, began his day with a visit to Garhwa Ghat ashram a monastery run by a sect devoted to the Bhakti tradition.
Headed by Swami Sharanananda, the sect is said to have a significant following among Yadavs, who have traditionally been SP supporters.
From Garhwa Ghat, Modi went to Ramghat, where he paid floral tributes at a statue of Lal Bahadur Shastri and also spent a few minutes at the house where the former Prime Minister had spent his early childhood.
Voting for the seventh and final phase will take place on 8 March and declaration of results is on 11 March.
Referring to the festival of Holi, which falls on 13 March, Modi urged the people of Kashi to cast their votes judiciously so that "Holi may be celebrated in UP on 11 March, two days ahead of schedule".
The PM's speech was, on one occasion, interrupted for a couple of minutes when he was distracted by a number of youths who were heartily chanting "Modi! Modi!". The PM asked them to keep quiet and jocularly told camerapersons shooting the rally "do not focus your lenses on them".
Modi spoke at length about his government's pro-poor and pro-farmer initiatives, which included soil health cards which he compared to "pathological tests advised by physicians before prescribing medicines".
"We are ensuring that certified, good quality seeds are made available to farmers so that they do not end up buying sub-standard ones from the black market and ruin their own fields.
"To those farmers whose water pumps have worn away, we are providing new ones free of cost," he said.
"Adequate availability of water enables a hard-working farmer to convert his fields into a goldmine. Our irrigation schemes are aimed at building canals in large numbers, so that water does not remain collected in dams, but reaches the fields," Modi said.
He also spoke about "neem-coated urea", which has ensured that fertiliser remained available to farmers adequately since it has "eradicated the possibility of misuse for any purpose other than farming".
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