Jharkhand turned into a battleground on Monday with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress sending their top guns to the poll-bound state. While BJP chief Amit Shah stressed national issues such as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the construction of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya were as important as local ones, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi targeted the ruling saffron party for "taking away land from the tribals and giving it to industrialists."
Shah set a 2024 deadline for implementing the hugely divisive NRC across the country, asserting "each and every" infiltrator will be identified and expelled before the next general election.
Notwithstanding the admission by some BJP leaders in West Bengal that apprehensions over the NRC cost the party dearly in the recent bypolls, the Union home minister told vpters in neighbouring Jharkhand that the nation-wide exercise will be conducted despite reservations voiced by Opposition parties.
"Today, I want to tell you that before the 2024 polls the NRC will be conducted across the country and each and every infiltrator identified and expelled. Rahul baba says don't expel them. Where will they go, what will they eat? But I assure you that before the country goes to polls in 2024 all illegal immigrants will be thrown out," Shah said at election rallies in Chakradharpur and Baharagora.
Shah said national issues such as uprooting terrorism, Naxalism and construction of a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya were as important in the Jharkhand elections as local matters like development.
Raking up the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri mosque dispute once again, the BJP president alleged the Congress made attempts to thwart the hearing of the case in the Supreme Court.
"Congress leaders would tell the Supreme Court that there is no need for hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi case. With your (people's) backing, we submitted that it be taken forward, and the result is that the apex court has ruled that only a Ram temple will be built in Ayodhya," he said.
He also attacked the Jharkhand Multi Morcha (JMM)-Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) alliance, which is crossing swords with the BJP for electoral supremacy in Jharkhand. The BJP leader also gave credit to the state's BJP government for "uprooting" the Naxalite menace and for bringing in development.
"When Congress was in power, it fired upon students agitating for Jharkhand state and attacked them with batons. Now Hemant Soren (JMM leader) is sitting in the lap of the same Congress so he can become the chief minister," he said.
Referring to the "vikas ki Ganga" flowing in Jharkhand because of the "double-engine" growth the Centre and the state governments had ushered in together, Shah said the Modi government built AIIMS in Deoghar, and it will now construct an airport there and also in Bokaro, Dumka and Jamshedpur.
About 20 lakh farmers have benefited from the crop insurance scheme, he claimed.
"Within five years, the Narendra Modi government and Raghubar Das dispensation uprooted Naxalism and paved the way for the state's development," he said. He added that Raghubar Das provided a "zero corruption" government and gave the state political stability. The Das government is the first in Jharkhand's history that will complete its full term in office.
"Rahul is in Jharkhand today. I challenge him to give an account of what Congress governments have done for Jharkhand during 55 years of their rule. We will also give an account of what we have done in five years," he said.
Targeting the Opposition alliance, the BJP chief said, "Parties that sell poll tickets, exploit adivasis, had opposed creation of Jharkhand and indulged in corruption involving millions and billions of rupees cannot take the state forward."
'BJP govt exploiting tribals'
Addressing an election rally in Jharkhand's Simdega, Rahul promised loan waiver to farmers and return of tribal land "given to industrialists". Rahul also said within a year of coming to power in Chhattisgarh, the Congress government has changed the scenario.
"During the BJP government in Chhattisgarh, land was taken away from tribals and given to industrialists. We brought tribal bill, forest rights law and ended BJP's wrongdoings. For the first time in history, land was taken back from the Tatas and given to the tribals," he said.
"Wherever the BJP has a government, industrialists get land easily but farmers and tribals do not get the right price for paddy. We ensured right price to paddy farmers in Chhattisgarh and waived loans in Congress-ruled states," the Congress leader added.
He said tribals have water, forests and land, and his party will protect their rights over those resources.
"There is no shortage of wealth in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh but the common people, tribals are not benefiting from it. BJP government is exploiting Jharkhand in the same way as Chhattisgarh. But Congress will change this," Rahul said.
He also hit out at the BJP government at the Centre over demonetisation, saying people of the state had to bear the brunt and stand in queues outside banks, but no "dishonest people" were seen in those lines.
"After all, who benefited the most from demonetisation and GST? Prime Minister Narendra Modi's friends. Modi has 10 to 15 industrialist friends, who take care of his marketing expenses," he alleged.
"They (BJP) only have one agenda — to take away money from the farmers and common man of Jharkhand, snatching land from tribals and give it to their 10-15 friends. We do not want such a government, but a government of the poor and the tribals," Rahul said.
He further said, wherever the prime minister goes, he talks of 'Make in India'. "However, not a single youth of Jharkhand got employment from this," Rahul added.
In the first phase of the election on 30 November, voting was held in 13 constituencies with turnout was recorded at 64.12 percent. The other four phases of the elections will be held on 7 December, 12 December, 16 December, and 20 December.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Dec 02, 2019 20:52:36 IST