Rajat Sharma

Modi outlines his UP campaign while opening India’s longest expressway

AKBBy inaugurating India’s longest expressway in eastern UP on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed to the nation how one can purely focus on development in politics. The 341 km long Purvanchal Expressway starts from Lucknow, cutting across nine districts, including Ayodhya, Amethi and Azamgarh, and joins National Highway-3 in Ghazipur. On a 3.2 km stretch developed as an emergency air strip for Indian Air Force, Mirage, Sukhoi, Jaguar fighter jets and Super Hercules transport aircraft landed in a spectacular show of air power, watched by the PM, flanked by UP Governor and Chief Minister.

The objective of the air show was to convey the message that the expressway can be used both for day-to-day transport and can be used as an airstrip during warlike situation. Along with this, the Prime Minister’s UP campaign made a smooth take off.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav may well claim that work on the expressway began during his tenure, and the landing of fighter jets on Agra-Lucknow expressway took place when he was CM, Congress leaders may well say that IAF jets had already landed on an air strip at the national highway in Barmer, Rajasthan, ruled by their party, and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati may claim that the actual work on Purvanchal Expressway began during her tenure, so what else is new? Why this tom-tomming ?

It was left to PM Modi to give a cogent reply. Modi said, during previous regimes, development in UP was confined only to the homes of chief ministers, and cities in UP were practically cut off from one another due to lack of good roads. He said, with the opening of this expressway, almost all the districts of eastern UP will now be connected with the state capital Lucknow.

Modi said, the Purvanchal Expressway, built at a cost of Rs 22,000 crore will also benefit the people of neighbouring Bihar. He praised UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and said, completion of this expressway within the stipulated timeline, with perfection and honesty, was not an easy task. He said, when he laid the foundation stone of the expressway three years ago, he never dreamt he would land on the expressway in an Air Force transport plane. He described the Purvanchal Expressway as UP’s ‘pride’ (shaan) and ‘wonder’ (kamaal).

Modi is right when he says, development can take place only with a good road infrastructure. The states of Gujarat and Punjab progressed and there was rapid industrialization due to good roads. Both UP and MP were lagging behind, but now both the states have built better roads. Modi alleged that roads in UP were deliberately left undeveloped by previous regimes, and the former rulers had left the people of eastern UP to live in dire poverty and at the mercy of mafia gangs.

The line and length of BJP’s campaign in UP has now been set by the PM. He rubbed salt into the wounds of political rivals, by saying that till 2016, there used to be ‘raahzani’ (highway robbery) in UP, but now new ‘raah’ (roads) are being made. “Those indulging in highway robbery are now in jails, earlier there was no power, but now villages are getting sufficient power, water and other facilities”, he added.

After the launch of the expressway, the Prime Minister alongwith the Governor, Chief Minister, Chief of Defence Staff and IAF Chief, watched IAF jets landing on the emergency airstrip.

In a spectacular show lasting over 45 minutes, Mirage, Sukhoi, Jaguar jet fighters landed on the airstrip, alongwith Super Hercules and AN-32 transport aircraft. Multiple landings and take-offs were done by the fighter jets in the presence of dignitaries.

An arrowhead formation fly was carried out by five jet aircraft including Mirage, Sukhoi and Jaguar. It was followed by touch and go landing by Mirage, Sukhoi and Jaguar fighters. A Sukhoi jet carried out Vertical Charlie low altitude manouevring as it rolled several times in the air, followed by loud clapping.

The air show ended with a flypast by Kiran aircraft over the expressway led by two Sukhoi fighters. This was the fourth expressway landing by IAF jets in the recent past, with previous landings done on Yamuna Expressway, Agra-Lucknow Expressway and National Highway 925 near Barmer.

One point is clear: BJP is going to fight the UP polls in the name of Modi and will seek votes on the work done by Yogi till now. The name of Lord Ram will also be invoked, as the construction begins on the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya. This was indicated on Tuesday when Yogi gifted a model of the Ram temple to the Prime Minister at the public meeting. Yogi ended his speech by chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’, a favourite slogan during the Ram Janmabhoomi temple movement of the Nineties. On the other hand, Modi limited his speech to development , free ration, medicines and vaccine to the poor, modernisation of defence forces and national security. Modi said, development is essential, but national security is also paramount. He blamed opposition parties for not paying much attention to both these issues.

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