Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to woo Jats just months ahead of UP polls

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday sought to revive the legacy of the revolutionary freedom fighter and noted Jat leader Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh, who is credited with forming the first provincial government of India in Afghanistan during the first world war, in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh elections.

Reaching out to the Jat community, many of whom have been agitating against the new farm laws, the PM said the role and contribution of stalwarts like Raja Mahendra Pratap to the freedom struggle had not been highlighted until now. “India of the 21st century is today trying to correct the mistakes of the 20th century,” said Modi at the foundation-laying ceremony of a university named after the Jat leader.

With the UP assembly election less than five months away, Modi mentioned Jat icon Chhotu Ram as well as Suheldev, revered by the Rajbhar community, in his 40-minute speech. “This generation must be made aware of contributions of Maharaja Suheldev, Choudhary Chhoturam just like Raja Mahendra Pratap,” he said, while also remembering former BJP CM Kalyan Singh, who hailed from the district and was a prominent Lodh leader and Hindutva face of the BJP.

Modi, who also visited the Aligarh node of the UP Defence Industrial Corridor, said the objective was to turn India from one of the biggest arms importers in the world to an arms exporter. “There is also a proposal to manufacture the Brahmos missile at Lucknow node, for which there are plans to invest up to Rs. 9000 crore over the next few years.”

UP is becoming a huge centre of this transformation and the PM took pride in this as he is an MP from the state. He said a dozen and a half defence manufacturing companies will create thousands of jobs and invest hundreds of crores of rupees. New industries are coming up to support the manufacture of small arms, armaments, drones and aerospace-related products in the Aligarh node of the defence corridor. This will give new identities to Aligarh and nearby areas, he said.

“Up till now, people would depend on Aligarh for the safety of their homes and shops (Aligarh is known for its locks)… in the 21st century, Aligarh will protect the country’s borders.”

In his speech, Modi said Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh had contributed a big piece of land to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and a technical university in Vrindavan. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath had earlier noted that despite this donation, Singh’s name did not figure anywhere at AMU.

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