Lauding the arrangements by the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh for this year’s Kumbh Mela, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday recalled the 1954 stampede at the religious gathering in Allahabad when Jawaharlal Nehru was PM.
“When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was prime minister, thousands of people were killed in the Kumbh stampede in Allahabad,” Modi said at an election meeting at Koshambi.
News reports from the time had, however, put the toll in the hundreds, with some saying that about 800 people were killed.
The prime minister alleged that for saving the image of the then government, the media, too, had suppressed the news.
“The stampede victims’ families names were never mentioned and not a single rupee was given to them (as compensation). It was insensitivity and this sin was committed by the country’s first prime minister,” Modi said.
Praising the efforts of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in successfully organising Kumbh in Prayagraj, he said, “Earlier there used to be allegations of corruption and commission in Kumbh against ministers, officers and contractors but this time there was no such allegation and the event was successful.”
Continuing his attack over the 1954 stampede, the prime minister said, “There was Congress government in UP and at the Centre. From Panchayat to Parliament, there was only Congress. Some parties even did not exist at that time. You will be astonished to know that there was a stampede in which thousands were killed.
“This time no stampede happened. The arrangements changed with change in government.”
The prime minister said he was privileged to attend several Kumbh melas in the past.
“I came here towards the end of the Kumbh mela in Prayagraj so that pilgrims did not get affected. Those entrusted with the cleanliness work have changed the image of the country with their works. I got privilege to wash the feet of some during my visit,” he said.
Lashing out at the SP-BSP-RLD ‘gathbandhan (alliance)’ in Uttar Pradesh, Modi said during the last elections, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party were on opposite sides, but they have joined hands this time.
“Last elections the SP and the BSP were political foes, today they have become friends,” he said, ridiculing the alliance.
During the 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the SP and the BSP had contested against each other.
Modi said names of prospective prime ministers are popping up from every “gali-mohalla” (nook and corner).
He said just like the Congress, the SP-BSP would also not be able to check terrorism.
Modi said his government had given the forces freedom to act. “We did a surgical strike and now an air strike,” he said, referring to a retaliatory attack in Pakistan after the blast in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Pakistan had deployed forces and tanks on the border anticipating that Modi will take the land route. They did not know, this is Modi. This time ‘wah upar sey gaye’ (the forces attacked via air). Bajrang Bali ki jai. We replied to ‘goli’ (bullet) with ‘gola’ (bombshell),” he said.
“To stop harvest of terrorism, the line from where they get supply of ‘dana-pani’ (fodder) should be snapped,” he told the gathering.
Firing a salvo at the opposition, Modi said, “They are those who are either in jail or on bail. They promote casteism and nepotism. Have I done anything due to which you have to hang your head in shame? The SP and the BSP governments made lives of rivals hell during their respective regime by cutting power and water connections to their premises.
“For me, all people are my family irrespective of their caste and religion. Whatever I do, I do for all. What could not be done in 55 years was done by us in 55 months. We ensured power supply to 90 per cent people and rest will be covered soon,” he said.
He asked when the opposition cannot control ‘gaon ke gundey’ (village ruffians), how can they deal with terrorists?
“Earlier blasts took place in Ayodhya, Kashi, Mumbai, Rampur. It has stopped in past five years. It’s not because of Modi but due to power of your votes, which made this ‘chowkidar’ strong,” he said.