NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at his expansive best in Srinagar, promising development and more development---from tourism to education to power to industry to employment---as he sought to convince a large but visibly desultory crowd to vote for the Bharatiya Janata party in the remaining phases of the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

It was a stock campaign speech that the Prime Minister could have been delivering in any state of the country.He spoke of the great love that the people of Kashmir had given him, and his desire to return the love with interest. And to do so through development and by fighting rampant corruption and restoring the “aan, baan, shaan” of Kashmir.

He said that all other parties had been in government in the state. “You have seen the Congress, the baap-beta sarkar (Farooq and Omar Abdullah), the baap-beti (Mufti and Mehbooba) sarkar, what did they give you, they did everything for themselves, nothing for you,” PM Modi said. He said he was asking only for “one opportunity” to “serve” the people and take Kashmir to the zenith of development going on to weave a “dream” of a corruption free state with roads and infrastructure, schools and universities, power and industry, and employment for the youth.

The Prime Minister referred to Pakistan in passing and without hitting it on terrorism. He said that he had told the neighbouring country that it should come and work to eradicate poverty, corruption, unemployment “shoulder to shoulder” with India. He said he had come to “share the sorrows” of the Kashmiris.

PM Modi repeatedly pointed out his prowess referring often to himself as “Modi”. He said that he had been told that since 1983 no one had dared to address such a meeting in Srinagar. He reminded Kashmir that he had been visiting the state every single month since his government came to power, and this had nothing to do with the elections. He said that when the floods came he was in the state, and promised Rs 1000 crores immediately for relief. He said that he too was a human being and had wanted to celebrate Diwali with his family, but he did not do so and came to the state to be with the people. He said he realised after the floods that the Kashmiris had “no faith in your government but you had faith in Modi.”

The Prime Minister stayed away from controversial issues, and what could become controversies at this stage as well. There was only the above reference to Pakistan, nothing about terrorism except about the 33000 policemen who had been killed in the line of duty and the Army soldiers sacrificing their lives. He took the credit for the Army enquiry into the recent incident where two young boys were killed by trigger happy soldiers, saying that this was the “kamal of the Modi sarkar”. He said that his government in the state would deliver justice.

“Love” remained the recurring theme as he said more than once that he was overwhelmed by the love give to him by the Kashmiris. “What can be bigger than love, my responsibility is to return this love to you,” he said.