Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is leading the Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign blitzkrieg ahead of this year’s Lok Sabha election, is visiting the northeast for a whirlwind tour of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura. Giving impetus to the BJP’s Lok Sabha election campaign, PM Modi’s visit to the three northeastern states is part of his ten-state visit in just five days.
During his visit to Assam, Arunachal and Tripura, Prime Minister Modi is inaugurating several key projects and addressing multiple rallies.
The prime minister began his visit to the northeast by laying the foundation of a greenfield airport at Hollongi in Parum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh. The airport will not only boost the region’s connectivity and economic growth, but will also be of strategic importance. PM Modi also launched a project to construct a strategic tunnel in Sela, which will reduce travel time to the India-China border town of Tawang by over an hour.
Prime Minister Modi’s next stop was Guwahati, in Assam, where he reached around 12:30 pm. His last stop for the day will be in Tripura, where he is scheduled to arrive at around 3:30 pm.
In Guwahati, PM Modi laid the foundation of a six-lane bridge over the river Brahmaputra and kicked-off construction work of an All India Institute of Medical Sciences or AIIMS – India’s premier hospital and medical research facility – at Changsari, which is approximately 22 kilometers from Guwahati.
The prime minister also inaugurated the Numaligarh Refinery’s bio-diesel plant and the Barauni-Guwahati gas pipeline – two key energy projects for Assam. These pipelines, connecting northeast with the national gas grid, will not only meet the fuel requirement of industries, but also supply CNG for automobiles and cooking gas to households.
MAJOR PUSH FOR DEVELOPMENT
In Arunachal Pradesh, the prime minister launched a new, dedicated, round-the-clock Doordarshan channel for the state. The channel has aptly been named ‘DD Arun Prabha’. PM Modi also dedicated the 110 MW Pare hydroelectric power plant to the nation. Apart from this, he laid the foundation stone for a permanent campus of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India at Jote and inaugurated the upgraded Tezu Airport. He also launched several vital schemes and inaugurated 50 health and wellness centers in the state. The total value of projects launched by PM Modi for Arunachal Pradesh alone crossed the Rs 4,000 crore mark, according to news agency Press Trust of India.
In Assam, PM Modi laid the foundation stone of Northeast Gas Grid which will lead to uninterrupted supply of natural gas across the northeast. He also inaugurated a gas processing plant in Tinsukia and an LPG capacity augmentation of mounted storage vessel in Guwahati. The prime minister also laid the foundation stone of NRL bio-refinery at Numaligarh, as well as the 729-km long Barauni-Guwahati gas pipeline.
In Tripura, PM Modi will dedicate the Garjee-Belonia railway line to the nation by unveiling a plaque. He will also inaugurate the new complex of the Tripura Institute of Technology and unveil the statue of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur at Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport in Agartala.
PROTESTS GREET THE PRIME MINISTER
However, PM Modi is also facing resistance by activists in the northeastern states over the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which commits to providing Indian citizenship and full constitutional rights to non-Muslims who came and settled in India after facing persecution in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Though the bill has provisions for Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Christians, it does not include Muslims. This decision by the Centre has led to allegations of religious discrimination from rights activists as well as political parties.
Shortly after landing in Guwahati last night, Prime Minister Modi was greeted with black flags and angry activists protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Several civil society groups across the northeast – including the All Assam Students Union or AASU – have decided to intensify their ongoing agitation. Slogans of “Narendra Modi, Go Back” were heard as activists stood by the roads waving black flags as PM Modi’s motorcade was heading to Raj Bhawan from the airport last evening.
Agitations have also intensified across Nagaland and Manipur, with several civil society groups as well as regional parties calling for a boycott of the prime minister’s tour of the region.
The Asom Gana Parishad – the BJP’s former alliance partner in Assam – also took out a massive torchlight march against the controversial bill on Friday evening.