Burning a Chitta Ravan, Congress uses Modi's Ludhiana visit to up the ante
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Ludhiana is being effectively used by the Congress party in Punjab to up its ante against the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP government in Punjab.
What could have been an event to boost the SAD-BJP's image in the poll-bound state turned out to be a scoreboard for the Congress as the party held parallel events.
Reality vs expectation
The prime minister was expected to make a political statement or at least announce a package for Punjab that would help the ruling alliance that is battling heavy anti incumbency.
Modi did try to reach out to the dual constituencies of Dalits and industrialists of the state but refrained from making any direct political points in his speech at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU). He talked of promoting the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) besides urging people to buy khadi with the slogan "Khadi used to be for nation, now khadi is for fashion" during the ongoing festive season as it would help poor families.
Modi said that the MSME sector must target the global market. Pointing that Ludhiana is an important economic hub, he said it is natural to launch a scheme related to MSME from there. He launched a National SC/ST Hub and Zero Defect Zero Effect initiatives.
The SC/ST hub has been launched with the objective of promoting enterprise culture and entrepreneurship among the Dalits and increase their stake in public procurement. Meanwhile the 'Zero Effect, Zero Defect' programme is to ensure that the products made by these enterprises have no defects and the processes involved have no environmental and ecological side effects.
Quoting Guru Gobind Gobind Singh for raising his voice against casteism and untouchability, Modi said, "We know that due to our societal anomalies, hearing out some incidents targeting our Dalit brothers even today, my head hangs in shame. After 70 years of Independence, we cannot wait longer."
Watching the wheels
Modi also distributed 500 traditional wooden charkhas to women spinners from five local khadi institutions given by khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC). This distribution of charkhas has comes a surprise as charkha is seen as an outdated implement that is hardly in use.
"It doesn't make any sense to distribute charkhas. The charkha will end up as a show piece in the drawing rooms and as memory for the women that they got it from Modi," said eminent economist Dr SS Johal.
Beant Singh, a researcher on Punjab's rural economy interprets charkha distribution in a political manner. "Since charkha is associated with Mahatma Gandhi, he is trying to don the mantle of peace. This also jells with the RSS-BJP campaigns on Swadeshi. He is trying to sell himself as a true nationalist. Otherwise it's nothing but a cover up. It needs to be asked who can sustain oneself by weaving a charkha these days when the Khadi Udyog offices in the state are faring very poorly and most of them are locked," he told Catch.