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PM Modi in Barmer; says Cong and drought are 'twin brothers'

Nishant Chhabra | Updated on: 16 January 2018, 19:27 IST
PM Narendra Modi marks the commencement of work of Refinery in Barmer

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the Congress Party and drought are 'twin brothers' as wherever the party goes, there is drought. Speaking at a function organised to mark the commencement of  work on the Rs 43,129 crore Barmer oil refinery project in Barmer's Pachpadra, Modi said drought and Congress walk hand-in-hand and the state saw the end of drought when the party was shown the door.

PM Modi visits an exhibition during the commence of work in Barmer Refinery

Touching on the slugfest between the ruling BJP and the Congress over taking credit for the refinery, located in the Thar desert, he said the Congress had only laid foundation stones for projects across the country to claim credit. Railway lines were announced just to claim short-term popularity with projects that never ever seeing the light, he charged.

The Congress, he said, had "hoodwinked" people by making just announcements. Modi said the party, after seeing his commitment to one-rank-one-pension scheme for defence personnel, made a provision for Rs 500 crore in the interim budget just before the 2014 general elections to claim credit.

"Barmer refinery was at least on papers, OROP wasn't even on paper," he said, adding that no groundwork on the beneficiaries or on the outgo was ever done. It took one-and-half-years to collate the list of beneficiaries of OROP and the implementation cost Rs 12,000 crore as against Rs 500 crore provided by the Congress, he noted.

Of this, four installments totaling Rs 10,700 crore have already been made to defence personnel and the rest would also be paid soon, Modi said. He said while the Congress just gave the slogan of 'garibi hatao' (remove poverty), the BJP government has worked towards doing so by way of providing free cooking gas (LPG) connection to poor women and giving free power connection to the four crore households.

Ahead of the event, ruling BJP and opposition Congress bargained hard in public for claiming credit for the refinery. The Congress argument was that the then party president  Sonia Gandhi had laid the foundation stone of the refinery on September 22, 2013, and the Modi act of "re-laying" the foundation stone was farcical.

Modi being welcomed by CM Vasundhara Raje on his arrival at Uttarlai Air Force Station in Barmer

But both the Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said that foundation laying was a political stunt carried out days before the model code of conduct for assembly elections coming into force on September 27, 2013.

Neither the land was acquired for the project nor the environment clearance obtained for the foundation laying, they argued. The Tuesday's function, coming as it is  weeks before by-polls for Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha, and Mandalgarh Assembly seats in Rajasthan on January 29, had its own political overtones. The state is scheduled for  Assembly elections  later this year. 

(With Agency Inputs)

First published: 16 January 2018, 19:27 IST