Modi criss-crosses Gujarat in poll push
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the state’s longest serving chief minister between 2001 and 2014, also hit out at the Congress, a party, he alleged, that was “working towards destroying Gujarat”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed four rallies in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region on Sunday, the second day of his campaign blitz ahead of the elections to the 182-member assembly in December.
While the PM urged people to turn up in huge numbers to take “part in the festival of democracy”, a common theme through his addresses was the development of the state in 27 years of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s rule.
Modi, who was the state’s longest serving chief minister between 2001 and 2014, also hit out at the Congress, a party, he alleged, that was “working towards destroying Gujarat”.
The Prime Minister began his day by offering prayers at the Somnath temple, in the Gir Somnath district. He is also the chairman of the Somnath Trust.
Later, addressing a rally in Veraval town in the district, the PM urged the people to turn up in large numbers on polling day and break all the previous records of voter turnout in the state elections.
Modi said Gujarat made progress despite the fact that many people used to look down upon the state in the past for various reasons, including frequent droughts. “Today, cargo from the entire north India reaches the world from our ports. These ports have become the doors to India’s prosperity,” he said.
The BJP government in Gujarat has also helped the fishermen community in increasing their income through various schemes, including the Sagarkhedu Yojana, he added.
In the 2017 assembly polls, the Congress won all the four assembly segments in Gir Somnath district — Talala, Una, Kodinar and Somnath.
On Sunday, the PM was canvassing for four BJP candidates from the district.
“In this election, I want people to turn up in large numbers at their respective polling booths on the voting day and break all the previous records of voter turnout. I am not saying you should vote for the BJP only. Just ensure that each and every citizen takes part in this festival of democracy. This is my appeal to everyone,” Modi said in his address.
“Another thing I want from you is to make sure the BJP wins each and every booth here. Will you do it for me? This time, my focus is to win all the polling booths here. If you will help me in achieving this, these four BJP candidates will automatically reach the assembly in Gandhinagar,” the PM said.
“I want to ensure that Bhupendra (Patel) breaks the records of Narendra. We all need to work hard to take Gujarat ahead on the path of development. I am sure you will give your blessings to us,” he said.
At the second rally of the day, PM Modi, in Dhoraji town of Rajkot district, sharpened his attack on the Congress, targeting former party chief Rahul Gandhi for walking with “an anti-Narmada activist”.
“The Narmada project was the only solution to quench the thirst of the arid region of Kutch and Kathiyawad (Saurashtra region). You must have seen yesterday how a Congress leader was doing padyatra with a woman, who was an anti-Narmada activist. She and others had stalled the project for three decades by creating legal hurdles,” he said, without naming Rahul Gandhi.
On Saturday, during the Maharashtra leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul Gandhi was joined by activist Medha Patkar, who spearheaded the Narmada Bachao Aandolan to prevent the displacement of locals due to the construction of the dam.
“These activists held protests just to make sure that water does not reach here,” Modi said, and accused Patkar of defaming Gujarat to such an extent that even the World Bank stopped funds for the project.
The BJP government worked hard for 20 years to resolve the water shortage issue through various schemes, Modi said, and added: “When Congress leaders approach you to seek votes, I want you to ask them to explain on what moral ground the opposition party is seeking votes when their leader was doing padyatra with a woman who was against the Narmada project.”
The Congress is only interested in installing hand pumps, Modi said, as he lauded the BJP governments for understanding that “water and electricity are crucial for development”.
The foundation stone of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, a concrete gravity dam built on the Narmada river was laid by India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. After years of legal hurdles, the 1,210 metres long dam was inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi in 2017.
In Amreli district, Modi again appealed to the people to not waste their votes on the Congress, saying the party does not have a road map for development.
“The BJP government did several works to strengthen Gujarat. Now, it is time to take a giant leap. And, Congress does not have the capacity to do that. The opposition party can never do anything good for you,” the Prime Minister said.
The Congress won all five assembly segments in Amreli district — Dhari, Amreli, Lathi, Savarkundla and Rajula — in the 2017 elections whereas the BJP drew a blank.
The Prime Minister said the people of Amreli elected Congress candidates in the previous elections with high hopes. “Now tell me what did they do for you (during these five years)? Do you remember at least one work done by them? Then why are you wasting your votes on them? To strengthen Amreli, I urge you to choose lotus (BJP) this time,” said the PM.
“You cannot expect a Congress leader to take you on the path of development, ask any Congress leader what is the road map for development and they do not have any plan,” he said.
At the last rally of the day, in Botad town, the PM renewed his pitch to reject those who always defame the state.
“Earlier, allegations about scams used to be the main issue during elections. But, after the BJP’s rise in Gujarat, the main issue has become development instead of scams. We compelled all other political parties in the country to talk about development during polls,” he said.
The Prime Minister promised the youth that the entire belt covering Botad, Dholera and Bhavnagar will soon become Gujarat’s “most happening industrial belt where even aeroplanes will be manufactured”.
Exhorting people to vote the BJP to power again in the western state, the PM, during his 30-minute-long speech in Gujarati, said: “This election is not only for the next five years, it will determine what Gujarat looks like in the next 25 years.”
The Prime Minister is expected to participate in at least eight programmes crisscrossing the state from Saurashtra to Surat during his three-day visit to the state.
The voting in the BJP-ruled state will be held in two phases, on December 1 and 5. The votes will be counted on December 8.
(With agency inputs)