Cong neglected Ladakh, we will give all-weather road, rail links: Nirmala

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressing a massive election rally at Polo Ground, Leh on Saturday. —Excelsior/Morup Stanzin
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressing a massive election rally at Polo Ground, Leh on Saturday. —Excelsior/Morup Stanzin

‘Centre empowered Hill Council, gave direct funds’
NE, Ladakh MP will work together: AP CM

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, May 4: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today that several works have been initiated during five years tenure of Narendra Modi Government for Ladakh region for keeping it connected with rest of the country through not one but two routes in all weathers including rail and road and added that not only Ladakh but entire Jammu and Kashmir will be “solar power surplus’’ due to initiatives taken by them.
Addressing a mammoth public rally at Polo Ground Leh for BJP candidate for Ladakh Parliamentary seat, Jamyang Tsering Namgayal in presence of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Pema Khandu and BJP State president, Ravinder Raina, Sitharaman, attired in the traditional Ladakhi dress, said the importance the Central Government attached to Ladakh can be well gauged from the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and she herself visited four times each to the mountain-locked region during the Government to personally connect with the people and address their issues. Click here to watch video
Asserting that both North East and Ladakh had been very badly neglected by the Congress Governments at the Centre, the Defence Minister said Modi had issued clear instructions to his Council of Ministry that at least one Cabinet Minister should visit North East every week and an equal focus was also paid to Ladakh, where, for the first time, Detailed Project Report (DPR) has been prepared to link Leh with train from Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh besides the road connection from Srinagar (through Zojila tunnel). The rail route will be an all-season network and keep connected Ladakh with rest of the country throughout the year, she added.
“For the first time since independence, North East and Ladakh got focus during Atal Behari Vajpayee Government and then in Narendra Modi tenure,’’ she said, adding that road network is being fast strengthened in Ladakh region and shortly Leh-Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) road will also be completed.
Recalling her four visits to Ladakh after taking over as the Defence Minister during which she also toured Siachen, DOB, Chushul, Pangong lakes etc, Sitharaman said whatever development and other works possible for Ladakh have been done and more will follow during next term of the Government. However, she said, the new works can’t be announced in the wake of Model Code of Conduct.
Sitharaman said it was the BJP Government at the Centre, which strengthened Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC). She said the Council was now getting direct funding from New Delhi. Earlier, the funding was routed from New Delhi to Srinagar and then Leh. Now, she said, it was directly reaching Leh, which has boosted and expedited development works.
“Leh was given more administrative and financial powers to utilize the money which resulted in speeding up of various development works,” Sitharaman said.
She lambasted the Congress for ignoring Ladakh completely during their tenure at the Centre. “The Congress only sold dreams to the people,’’ she said.
Sitharaman assured the people that their all pending defence issues, including rent for the land which is under the Army’s use, would be resolved.
“I am not making any promises because it is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct in view of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls. I am speaking about the initiatives taken by the Modi Government for welfare of the people of Ladakh region,” she said.
The Defence Minister said the planning for the biggest solar power park in Leh has already been started by renewable energy which will not only provide electricity to the region, but also make Jammu and Kashmir energy a surplus State.
Drawing a parallel between Northeast and Ladakh, she said both the regions faced neglect during six decades of the Congress rule and only came up for a focused development during the last five years.  She said the Congress dominated the political discourse in Ladakh, but never paid attention to the region for its development.
During the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led Government in the past, she said, a separate department of North East affairs was set up which got a boost during the past five years after the formation of the Modi Government.
“The land of ‘seven sisters’ (as the North East is called) is actually eight sisters, including Sikkim, and this is for the first time that these Himalayan States are witnessing development in the shape of construction of new railway lines, better roads and airports.
She referred to the Prime Minister’s speech at Red Fort in Delhi last year promising recruitment of women in the armed forces and said the decks were cleared and “local women will be recruited in Ladakh Scouts” shortly.
“After the return of the Modi Government at the Centre, all your issues like pending rent cases for agricultural land under use of Army and recruitment of porters will be addressed. A Ministerial team will visit Ladakh and you need not come to Delhi to raise your issues,” Sitharaman said.
She said the Centre also granted divisional status to Ladakh, Ladakh University, Leh Medical College, Expansion of Leh Airport, Funds for Zojilla Tunnel, huge funding for Zanskar road and road to Demchok via Nyoma and future road project of Turtuk Tha Hanu road and electricity to households in all areas of Leh and Kargil. Without referring to Congress rebel Asgar Ali Karbalaie, who is also in fray from Ladakh seat against party’s official candidate, Rigzin Spalbar, Sitharaman charged the Congress with enacting “drama’’ and called upon the people to elect Jamyang and ensure return of Modi Government at the Centre.
She said the BJP was committed to address all issues mentioned in its election manifesto.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu also addressed the rally, highlighted the policies of Modi for Himalayan States.
“During the Congress Government, only mess and chaos was in India and the country was plundered badly. There was no accountability and no transparency,” Khandu alleged.
He assured the people of Ladakh that he would keep supporting them and appealed to vote unitedly for the BJP candidate and ensure his victory.
The Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister said 15 Members of Parliament (MPs) from North East and all BJP MLAs from Arunachal will work together with Jamyang Tsering Namgayal, if he is elected from Ladakh, to work out and address all issues of Ladakh region.
However, he added, this can be possible only if the people elect Jamyang as the Lok Sabha member from Ladakh.
Khandu said he would again visit Ladakh after few months when Assembly elections will be held in Jammu and Kashmir as it was necessary to have BJP Government in the State as well as Centre for better and overall development of the region.
He said Congress has always worked on 1+0 formula i.e. one family rule and zero work for the people while the BJP always works on 1+ 125 crore formula i.e. working for 125 crore people of the country.
Khandu said Dr Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister for 10 years had visited Ladakh only once while Narendra Modi has visited this region four times in five years.
BJP State president Ravinder Raina also addressed the gathering and called upon the people of Ladakh to vote the BJP candidate for overall development of Ladakh as well as the State.
Raina said the BJP was committed to address all issues of Ladakh.


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