Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi wears a traditional headgear of the Adi tribes as he addresses a rally in Pasighat in East Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh yesterday.
Agencies/Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh
Opposition leader Narendra Modi, favourite to win this year’s polls, yesterday warned China to shed its “expansionist mindset” as he toured the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said China should instead focus on forging peaceful bilateral ties with India.
Modi was speaking during an election rally in the state’s Pasighat town.
“The world has changed. An expansionist mindset will not be accepted. China will also have to do away with such a mindset,” Modi said.
“Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India and will always remain so. No power can snatch it away from us.”
China and India share a de facto border, known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which has never been formally demarcated.
India regularly holds elections in Arunachal Pradesh, which lies in a remote eastern stretch of the Himalayas and has been administered as part of the Indian state for decades.
China questions India’s claim to the territory and calls it South Tibet.
President Pranab Mukherjee described Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of the country on a visit last November, sparking a heated exchange. China urged India not to aggravate problems on their shared border.
The unresolved border dispute has soured bilateral relations which are often prickly and marked by mutual distrust— - the legacy of a brief, bloody border war in 1962 over Arunachal Pradesh.
The border dispute flared again last April, with India accusing Chinese troops of intruding deep into Indian territory, sparking a three-week stand-off that was only resolved when troops from both sides pulled back.
The countries have since signed accords and held meetings to maintain peace on the border.
Modi is tipped to be elected as prime minister, with his party leading the Congress in opinion polls ahead of general elections due by May.
“In the east, Arunachal Pradesh receives the first rays of the sun in the country while in the west, Gujarat receives the last rays. The sun, while going down, promises Gujarat every evening that it would come again in Arunachal Pradesh the next day,” Modi said, adding that Arunachal Pradesh is the state that wakes up the country every day.
At the Pasighat rally, and also at Silchar in Assam, Modi took up the burning issues of the two states and appealed the people to give him 60 months’ time (a five-year term) to resolve the problems and bring development to the region.
Modi also expressed his grief over the recent killing of Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Taniam in New Delhi and suggested there be hostels for students and job seekers from the northeast in New Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai and other places.
Pointing to the hydro-power potential of Arunachal Pardesh, Modi said small projects could be built as the people were opposing big dams that were required for large power projects.
“Arunachal Pradesh can light up the entire country. However, the people are opposing big dams but there is no harm building small projects to tap the potential of the state,” he said.
At the Silchar rally, the BJP leader promised that if his party came to power in the general elections, it would resolve the burning issues like illegal infiltration from Bangladesh, Hindu refugees and ‘D’ (disenfranchised/doubtful) voters within 60 months.
“Assam is near Bangladesh and Gujarat is near Pakistan. While the government in Assam has forced the people to suffer due to Bangladeshi infiltration, Pakistan is creating problems for me in Gujarat. Now you have to decide whether you want to continue suffering due to Bangladesh or not,” Modi said.
“Friends, I have come here for you. Trust me for once and if I come to power, I’ll end the system of detention camps in Assam. The government here is violating the human rights of some people for vote banks politics,” he said, adding that D voters should get back their rights.
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