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Hometown sends SOS

Vadmagar has it all — from 24x7 water supply and power to top-class infrastructure. But the people in Narendra Modi’s hometown want more: to stop the migration of youth to bigger urban centres, reports Dharmendra Jore.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2007 00:49 IST
Dharmendra Jore

Vadmagar has it all — from 24x7 water supply and power to top-class infrastructure. But the people in Narendra Modi’s hometown want more: to stop the migration of youth to bigger urban centres.

They are hoping the chief minister’s trusted man, local BJP candidate Narayanbhai Patel, will convey their message.

“We want him (Modi) to create more jobs here by setting up more industrial units. Then only, we won’t need to move out of here and can get married to local girls,” said Dakshesh, 28, who refused to give his surname. “We don’t want to air our grievances openly because we are immensely proud of Modi.”

His friend, Nimeshbhai, 32, said their families, who live in town, own land in the villages and sustain them on farm and dairy incomes. “But it hurts our self esteem. The farm income would decrease because agricultural land is shrinking due to growing urbanisation.”

Modi had successfully begun his policy-driven reform programmes and reorientation of government’s administrative structure from this town, 130 km north of Ahmedabad.

Milk-rich Vadnagar is in Unjha tehsil which

is known for its booming economy, propelled further by cuminseed (jeera), isabgol and castorseed trading. However, the town where Modi vended tea at the local railway station 45 years ago has consistently seen its youth seeking greener pastures in cities because local diamond-cutting units and farms did not yield additional jobs.

Some moneyed and well-connected people, especially the Patels, went abroad while the less privileged moved out to nearby Ahmebabad and Mumbai. Ahmedabad’s Maninagar seat from where Modi is seeking a second term has a migrant majority from Vadnagar.

Modi’s trusted aide and industry minister Anil Patel is from an adjoining constituency. “We’re sure Narenbhai will ask Anilbhai to do the needful after returning to power,” said Dakshesh.

“Developing infrastructure alone will not help us. We cannot use these modern facilities because we don’t have the money,” said Hemal (29).