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Amid chants of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', Modi gets rousing reception in Shimla

IANS | May 31, 2022 11:31 AM

SHIMLA: Amidst the chants of 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reached the Himachal Pradesh capital to participate in the Garib Kalyan Sammelan.

On arrival, he was extended a rousing reception by party workers and sympathizers, some donning traditional dresses, who were awaiting his arrival for several hours. Many women were present en route, waving their hands at the Prime Minister's arrival.

During the roadshow, Modi came out of the cavalcade and accepted greetings of the people by taking a stroll on The Mall. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur was accompanying him.

The focus of the visit is the Assembly polls, which are slated later this year, in the hill state. Modi often recalls his special bond with the state. He is also trying to keep his party's 'double engine government' on the track by recapitulating milestones the state achieved through Centre's welfare schemes.

The Garib Kalyan Sammelan, which marks the completion of eight years of the government led by the Prime Minister, is being organised across the country at state capitals, district headquarters and Krishi Vigyan Kendras.

It conceptualises elected public representatives across the country directly interacting with the public in an endeavour to get feedback about the various welfare programmes being run by the government, an official statement said.

Elated over the visit, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, who himself was supervising the preparations related to the Prime Minister's visit, told the media, "We are grateful to the Prime Minister for selecting this state to mark the eighth anniversary of the NDA government at the Centre."

"It is a historical event when the Prime Minister will interact with the beneficiaries of 16 Central schemes, to be watched by 17 lakh people across the country," he added.

At about 11 a.m., with the Prime Minister joining the Garib Kalyan Sammelan from Shimla, various state- and local-level programmes will get coverage and make the programme national.

During the event, the Prime Minister will directly interact with the beneficiaries of different programmes of nine Ministries or Departments of the Centre.

The freewheeling interaction is aimed to get free and frank feedback from the public, understand the impact of welfare schemes in people's lives and explore convergence and saturation with regard to different government programmes.

The Prime Minister will also release the 11th installment of financial benefit under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme.

This will enable the transfer of around Rs 21,000 crore to more than 10 crore beneficiary farmer families. On the occasion, the Prime Minister will also interact with the beneficiaries of (PM-KISAN) across the country.

Thousands of people, some donning traditional dresses, started converging at the historic Ridge -- once the promenade for the British colonial rulers when this town was their summer capital -- hours ahead of Modi reaching there to virtually address beneficiaries of the government's schemes.

A grand reception was extended by hundreds of people, holding party flags, lined up to welcome Modi en route right from the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) to the Ridge.

This was Modi's first visit to Shimla after December 27, 2017, the day his party's government came to helm in the state. He last addressed the public meeting here on April 27, 2017, after launching the Centre's subsidised air regional connectivity scheme UDAN, or 'Ude Desh ka Har Nagarik'.

After addressing the beneficiaries of the Central government's schemes, he will address a public meeting.

Marking Modi's ambitious Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a cleanliness campaign was carried out.

State BJP General Secretary Trilok Jamwal said it was a matter of pride that Modi chose Shimla for the rally on the occasion of completion of eight years of the Union government.

"Himachal is the second home of our Prime Minister and he is always excited to visit it. The people of Himachal Pradesh are excited to welcome Modi on his visit," said Jamwal, who is also political adviser to the Chief Minister.

But why Shimla's Mall Road, which has several British-era heritage buildings in typical Tudor style -- all wooden frames and shingled eaves, is special to Prime Minister Modi.

Old-timers recall that on his previous visits Modi never missed an opportunity to stop at the popular cafe Indian Coffee House on The Mall and to sip a cup of coffee.

In his previous visit in December 2017, as he was on his way to the airstrip, Modi's cavalcade stopped outside Indian Coffee House and spent more than 10 minutes and enjoyed a cup of coffee as hundreds of BJP workers and others assembled there.

"In Shimla, relished coffee at the Indian Coffee House and reminisced about the old days. The coffee tastes as good as it did two decades ago, when I would frequent Himachal for party work," Modi had said in a tweet.

In another tweet, he had thanked the people of Shimla for the warm welcome.

Armed with mobiles, Modi was mobbed by fans as they had tried to take selfies with him outside the Indian Coffee House that was set up in 1943.

Shimla's famous coffee house has seen many prominent customers -- late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani.

When he studied in India, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai was a frequent visitor, too.

Modi, during his earlier visit here, recalled that he used to spend hours at the Coffee House with his journalist friends to keep a tab on the state's political developments.

At one of the public rallies here, Modi had said: "Sitting at the Indian Coffee House along with my journalist friends, I used to get an insight into the state's political developments."

Modi had added in a lighter vein that he never paid for the coffee he had. His journalist friends used to foot the bill.

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