Facts, not rhetoric, were what Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia used to tear apart the ruling BJP’s Vibrant Gujarat claims.
On Saturday at a rally in Bharuch, the power minister began his dismantling of the growth story with his own department. “I can tell you, we supply 3,000 MW to Gujarat and Modi and his government sell off nearly a third of it, 875 MW, to other states.”
The state claims that the power situation in Gujarat is the best in the country.The Modi government found itself in the dock on other parameters too. The minister reeled off data: infant and maternal mortality rate is 5% in Kerala, 50% in Gujarat. Similarly, the state is high up on malnutrition and drinking water shortage charts.
The most scathing attack was on Modi’s claims of development. “Gujarat has been developing ever since the first traders from Gujarat sold silk to China a hundred years ago,” he said.
There were other firsts, in textile and fertiliser sectors. “All this happened during the tenure of Congress CMs Madhav Singh Solanki, Chimanbhai Patel and Amarsinh Chaudhary,” he said.
His words found resonance with the audience — mostly 20 and 30-year-olds — who had come in droves to attend the Congress rally in the BJP bastion.
The “son-in-law of Gujarat” was greeted with loud cheers. But, the biggest applause was reserved for the mention of the lack of drinking water. A man in the audience murmured, “It’s a miracle that there has been no epidemic in the city. The water here is like sewage.”
The Congress seems to have perfected this pitch. Around 90 km away in Jambusar, senior party leader Ahmed Patel reeled off another set of figures.
Patel said Rs. 1.33 crore is given to Gujarat, which means Rs.23,000 per person per year for the entire population of the state, which should be sufficient for all kind of facilities. “So, why is it that about 50 lakh people do not have houses and another 4 lakh are deprived of electricity?”
And while people applauded Patel with feeling, he had to draw a hasty conclusion, as film star and Congress MP Raj Babbar arrived mid-way. “UP ka sher,” a man screeched. A delighted Babbar replied, “Bhai, I am not UP ka sher. But we sure can elect one in Gandhinagar.”