Modi woos Patidars in whirlwind Gujarat tour

With the Gujarat assembly elections scheduled later this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pulled out all the stops to woo disgruntled Patidars in Surat and Saurashtra during a whirlwind two-day visit to Gujarat.

india Updated: Apr 27, 2017 13:08 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
Prime Minister,Narendra Modi,Gujarat tour
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of a multispeciality hospital in Surat on Monday.(PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday tried to strike an emotional chord with the local population, comprising mostly tribals and Patidars who are up in arms against the Gujarat government demanding OBC status.

His outreach came as he inaugurated a slew of projects totaling some Rs 2,000 crore during a two-day whirlwind tour of his home state Gujarat,

With lakhs of farmers, cattle-rearers and the marginalized in attendance at various functions that he addressed, Modi reached out to Patidars who form significant vote bank for the BJP, saying their love for him has remained unchanged.

After a roadshow in Surat Sunday evening, the Prime Minister inaugurated a Rs 400-crore multispecialty hospital in Surat on Monday, opened a diamond factory in Ichhapur and inaugurated a Rs 1,131-crore irrigation project for parched Saurashtra. The engagements set the stage to connect directly with the Patidars as he covered the community’s strongholds in Surat and Saurashtra.

Six months ago, BJP chief Amit Shah had to wind up his speech in four minutes at Varaccha in Surat. But at the same place on Monday, months before Gujarat goes to assembly polls, Modi was full of praise for the Patidars.

He said that people in other parts of the state have probably changed the way they behave with him after he became the PM. “Surat is the only exception,” he said, adding that he likes coming back to the city because it feels like home to him.

He added, “Like earlier times, this morning also a Patidar family sent me `bhakri’(bread) to circuit house in Surat for breakfast. This shows your love for me has not changed’’.

Lauding them for their hard work and simplicity, the PM left no stone unturned to pacify the community that for the first time in 30 years had switched loyalty in local body elections in November 2015 resulting in a Congress victory in the countryside.

After its spectacular win in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, the BJP has set itself a target of 150 seats out of total 182 in Gujarat. And to achieve that target, the support of influential Patidars is crucial for the saffron party.

At the hospital inauguration, Modi said, “After the Vajpayee government, my government has brought in a healthcare policy after a gap of 15 years.”

He also said that government would bring a new law to see that doctors prescribe only generic medicines. He recollected as Gujarat CM his decision to bring down stent uses in heart surgery had annoyed manufactures.

In Botad inaugurating irrigation project that fills up Saurashtra’s over 100 dams with excess of Narmada water, Modi lauded the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh in conserving the Narmada river.

“The forestation drive conducted by the MP government along the Narmada riverbank will preserve the river for over 100 years and ensure water to farmers of even Gujarat.”

First Published: Apr 17, 2017 21:10 IST