Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday slammed the Naveen Patnaik government of Odisha for "not cooperating" with the Centre for the speedy development of the state and said he used central schemes as a tool for the welfare of the Odiyas.
"The government in Odisha did not cooperate with us. Despite its indifference, we did our best in launching development projects in the state," Modi told an election rally in this backward Odisha town in Kalahandi district
once known as the state's "hunger zone".
This chowkidaar (watchman) has "taken advantage of Central schemes to ensure welfare of the Odiyas", he said.
If the BJP had formed government in Odisha after the 2014 election, the state would have witnessed speedy development in all sectors, he asserted.
Calling upon people to vote for the double-engine government of the BJP at the Centre and in the state, Modi said Odisha should repeat the history created by Uttar Pradesh in 2017 and Tripura in 2018 when the saffron party was catapulted to power with huge popular mandate.
Listing out his government's achievements, he said the NDA dispensation has constructed pucca homes for eight lakh families, provided power connections to 24 lakh homes, and cooking gas connections to 40 lakh mothers and sisters.
"In the last five years, we have opened bank accounts for 1.40 crore people, built toilets in 50 lakh homes, ensuring women's safety and security," he said.
Projecting the BJP as a "pro-poor" party, Modi sought to appeal to the tribals of the region, reaffirming his government's commitment to their welfare.
"The budgetary allocation for tribal welfare has been raised by 30 per cent by the BJP-led government which explains its commitment to uplifting the tribals. Five years ago, the minimum support price (MSP) was available for just 10 forest produce. It has now been increased to 50 to benefit the tribal community," he asserted.
The BJP-led government has also simplified laws for felling of bamboo to help tribal communities and the poor to raise their income, Modi said.
Similarly, over 400 Ekalavya model schools are being set up across the country as part of efforts to provide quality education to tribal children, he said, adding that steps have been taken to provide scholarship to them.
Modi alleged the Congress has cheated the tribals over the years by denying them their due.
"Tribals in the country have suffered under the Congress rule since Independence. The party took no concrete step to mitigate their plight. It was former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who formed a separate ministry to ensure their welfare and progress."
Recalling the episode of Dana Majhi, a tribal man from Kalahandi who made headlines in 2016 for walking over 12 km with his wife's body on shoulder after being denied a hearse, Modi asked, "Wasn't it the betrayal of a poor tribal by the BJD government?"
Referring to the statement by former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi that only 15 paise of a rupee sanctioned by the central government reaches the poor, Modi said only middlemen benefited under the Congress rule.
"The then prime minister was aware of the problem, but he failed to provide a solution. Despite diagnosing the disease, he offered no remedy. It is because of this deception that people had to migrate to other states, leaving their families behind," he said.
Pointing at himself Modi asserted it is "this chowkidar" who detected eight crore fake ration cards and LPG connections. He claimed Rs 1.10 lakh crore was being swindled by middlemen through fake ration cards and LPG connections.
"In the last five years, this (NDA) government has taken steps to ensure that the entire money meant for the welfare of the poor reaches them.
"Therefore, these people (opposition leaders) are shouting 'Chowkidar Hatao, Modi Hatao' slogans and hurling at me the choicest of abuses. But their 'Galian' (abuses) are like 'Gehna' (ornaments) for me," he said.
Modi and his partymen have launched 'Main Bhi Chowkidar' (I too am a watchman) campaign to blunt the Opposition, especially the Congress's, 'chowkidar chor hai (watchman is a thief) rallying cry.
Modi alleged the BJD was protecting and patronising mining mafia and those involved in chit fund scams.
"The BJD government is the enemy of the poor," he alleged.
Modi said while 12 crore farmers in the country have benefited from PM-KISAN scheme, Odisha failed to reap the desired benefit due to its initial reluctance to implement it.
Odisha has its own farm intervention programme-- Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme - that covers sharecroppers and landless agriculture labour. It was initially undecided about who would qualify for the central scheme.
The prime minister also said he has worked "diligently" to bring about a transformation in the country, without taking a single day's leave in the last five years.
He claimed it was because of the endeavour of his government that the naxal movement has weakened.
"The youth in Odisha is shunning the path of violence and returning to social mainstream to engage themselves in productive activities. As a result, the axal menace has reduced to a large extent in the country.
"The credit for the transformation goes to the people of the country, who voted the BJP to power. It is your vote and not Modi that brought about positive changes in the country, lit up the lives of poor, gave them hope," he said.
Today's was Modi's second election rally in Odisha in five days. On March 29, he had addressed a rally in Koraput. The prime minister is scheduled to visit the state for another campaign rally in Sundargarh on April 6.
Assembly elections in Odisha will be held along with Lok Sabha polls in four phases - on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)