The ruling BJP in Rajasthan sounded the bugle for upcoming assembly elections with Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching commencement of Rs 43,129 crore big-ticket refinery project in Pachpadra in Barmer district.
Claiming that refinery will be ready by 2022 and will change the economic landscape of Rajasthan, Modi said, "With this refinery, Rajasthan will take lead to become the energy power of the country."
The work commencement event which appeared more like a political rally witnessed thousands of people participating. Around 70,000 people participated in the event. As per the sources, the venue had arrangements for 1 lakh people. However, BJP had claimed that more than 3 lakh people will attend the event.
The local MP's and MLAs including Prime Minister Modi, Chief Minister Raje and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan tried to strike a chord with the public by speaking in a local dialect. In his one-hour speech PM Modi who addressed the crowd by saying Khamaghadi (greetings in Rajasthani) also remembered the son of the soil former defence minister Jaswant Singh and prayed for his well being.
This was the third time Prime Minister visited Rajasthan in last four years. Moreover, this was the first time PM Modi inaugurated a state project in Rajasthan. In earlier two visits Modi visited Rajasthan for the launch of soil card in Sriganganagar and inauguration of the national highway in Udaipur.
Ceremony with a political hue:
Banners and hoardings were put up on the entire stretch mentioning the achievements of the Centre and the state and giving the ceremony a political hue. With assembly polls slated this year and Lok Sabha bypolls in the Alwar and Ajmer to be held on 29 January, Modi's public event hails much importance. However, Congress has alleged the delay in the commencement of the work at the refinery was set keeping the event closer to the polling season in the state.
The refinery, a joint venture between Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and Rajasthan government, will have the capacity to refine 90 lakh crude oil annually. It is envisaged as a 9 MMTPA Refinery cum Petrochemical Complex. The product output from the refinery will conform to the advanced BS-VI emission norms.
Drought and Congress travel hand-in-hand: PM Modi
Addressing a function in Rajasthan’s Barmer, the Prime Minister took a dig at the previous Congress regime in Rajasthan headed by chief minister Ashok Gehlot. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said "Drought and Congress travel hand-in-hand in the state, wherever Congress goes twin brother drought follows.
The refinery witnessed a second foundation stone on Tuesday. The first foundation stone was laid by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on 22 September 2013. When former UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi laid the foundation stone for the project in 2013, some 60,000 people witnessed the ceremony.
He also touched upon the ongoing tug-of-war between the ruling BJP and Congress over taking credit for the refinery. He said it was the former leader Bhairon Singh Shekhawat who had envisaged the refinery project back in 2006.
While criticising the Congress party further, Modi added "We cannot mislead people by installing stones. We believe in constructing the concrete. While India will celebrate its 75 years of independence in 2022 we ensure that our refinery starts functioning in the same year".
Mixed Response From Locals:
Pachpadra (Barmer): The BJP leaders in Rajasthan made every attempt to make the event hit and to make a show of their strength. However, locals in the Barmer showed a mixed response. After failing to mobilize crowd from Barmer itself BJP leaders were forced to bring people from Jodhpur, Barmer, Pali, Jalore, Sirohi and Jaisalmer.
"The preparations were made on a grand scale but who will assure us that the work will commence. Congress also laid the foundation stone in their last year of their tenure and now BJP is doing the same. Our dreams have already shattered", said Raj Kanwar, a shopkeeper at Pachpadra. Similar views were echoed by many locals.