Congress hoodwinked people; it made tall claims but did nothing: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched a scathing attack on Congress saying it has "hoodwinked" people by making tall promises and doing nothing on the ground.

Speaking at a function organised to "commence" work on the Rs 431.29 billion Barmer oil refinery project here, Modi said drought and Congress walk hand-in-hand and the state saw end of drought whenever the party was shown the door.

"Congress has hoodwinked public and this is how they operate," he said, adding that for the sake of claiming credit it has all along only laid foundation stones of projects or made announcements of new trains without actually getting them started.

Ahead of today's event, ruling BJP and opposition Congress slugged it out to get credit for the refinery.

Congress said its then president Sonia Gandhi had laid foundation stone of the refinery on September 22, 2013 and Modi was "re-laying" the foundation stone.

But BJP said the 2013 function was a political stunt just before the assembly elections and the foundation was laid without even acquiring an inch of land for the project.

Modi said his government does not believe in making mere announcements and takes up jobs only to bring them to logical ends.

"This is a time for 'Sankalp Se Siddhi.' We have to identify our targets and work towards achieving them by 2022, when we mark 75 years of freedom," he said, adding that the 9 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) refinery too would be completed by 2022.

Drawing a parallel between his government's way of functioning and that of the Congress, he said the previous regime had provided a mere Rs 500 crore in the interim budget just before the 2014 general elections for the one-rank-one- pension (OROP) scheme for defence personnel to claim credit.

"Barmer refinery was at least on papers, OROP wasn't even on paper," he said, adding that no ground work 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 of Rs 120 billion, as against Rs 500 crore provided by the Congress, he said.

Of this, four instalments totalling Rs 107 billion have already been made to defence personnel and the rest would also be paid soon, he said.

Modi said while 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) and electricity connection to poor and opening bank accounts for them.

"Haven't you been hearing 'garibi hatao' slogan for last four decades. Haven't you seen several elections in the name of the poor but have you seen any scheme for their welfare. Poverty can be eliminated by empowering the poor and not merely by slogans," he said.

Taking further jibes at Congress, he said that they want people to dig pits even after 70 years of independence. "Had they been concerned about development, the poor of my country would have stood strong," he said.

Banks were nationalised but their doors did not open for the poor. More than 30 crore people of the country did not have access to banks even after 70 years of independence.

"When we came to power, it was decided to bring poor into mainstream of country's economic growth and we launched Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna," he said.

Zero balance bank accounts for 32 crore people were opened, in which Rs 720 billion has been deposited.

Under Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojna, Modi said, free LPG gas connection was provided to 3.3 crore families so that women do not have to suffer from pollution.

Also, 4 crore households with no electricity even after 70 years of independence are being provided with power connection, he said, adding that 18,000 villages have been electrified and free connections would be given to 4 crore households.

But both Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje said that foundation laying by Congress was a political stunt done days before the model code of conduct for assembly elections came into force on September 27, 2013.

Neither the land was acquired for the project nor the environment clearance obtained for the foundation laying, they said.

Raje said neither environmental clearance nor a proper techo-commercial feasibility study was done for the refinery project before the 2013 foundation stone laying.

The state government, under BJP, re-negotiated the project finances with state-owned Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) and brought down the interest free loan amount.

Today's function came weeks before by-polls for Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha, and Mandalgarh Assembly seats in Rajasthan on January 29. The state goes to polls later this year.

Raje asked Prime Minister to consider Barmer-Jaisalmer rail link and its further linkage to Mundra port in Gujarat.

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