PM Modi takes veiled dig at Congress for ‘stalling Gujarat’s growth’, launches Ro-Ro ferry service
The ruling BJP has pitched the Gujarat assembly election as a battle between development (vikasvaad) and dynastic politics (vanshvaad)Updated: Oct 22, 2017 14:21 IST
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said as the chief minister he faced a hostile Centre that tried to hold back Gujarat but over the last three years his government in Delhi changed that and pushed for the state’s development. (LIVE UPDATES)
On his third visit in a month to his home state that is due for assembly elections in December, Modi again projected the BJP as pro-development and targeted the Congress, without naming it, as anti-growth.
“When I was the chief minister, I faced hostility from the then central government. Efforts were made to stall industries and the state’s growth,” Modi said, apparently referring to the Congress-led UPA government.
Modi launched a ferry service in Bhavnagar in western Gujarat’s Saurashtra region, saying it is the “first of its kind project not only in India but also in South-East Asia”.
“This is also a unique project as the state government has used the latest technology to make this ferry service possible,” he said while inaugurating the first phase of the Rs 615 crore ‘roll- on-roll-off’ (ro-ro) ferry service between Ghogha in Saurashtra and Dahej in south Gujarat.
The roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferry service across the Gulf of Khambhat will connect Ghogha in Bhavnagar with Dahej in Bharuch district, reducing the distance between the two coastal towns from 310km by road to 30km.
Previous governments at the Centre made it difficult to launch the ferry service, Modi said.
The ferry service was proposed in early 1960s but the work began when Modi, who was the chief minister, laid the foundation stone in 2012.
Plans were being drawn to expand the service, which would not be restricted to one route. “We are planning to link other places also through ferries,” the PM said, adding his government was working to give the country a transport system for the 21st century to meet the needs of a New India.
According to Ajay Bhadoo, the chief executive officer of Gujarat Maritime Board which has executed the ro-ro project, the first phase of the service is meant for passengers.
In the second phase, which will be ready in two months, cars can also be carried between the two towns.
The BJP has pitched the Gujarat assembly election as a battle between development (vikasvaad) and dynastic politics (vanshvaad).
Addressing a rally last week, Modi had dared the Congress to contest the election on the issue of development after the opposition party targeted his government over the ‘Vikas Gandho thayo che (development has gone crazy)’ campaign on social media.
The election is a matter of prestige for the BJP, ruling the state for almost 22 successive years, as both Modi and party chief Amit Shah come from the western state.
The BJP is faced with anti-incumbency as well an angry Patidar community seeking quota in education and government jobs.
Not just the Patels, which were once firm supporters, the Dalits and Muslims, too, are said to be upset over violence by cow vigilantes and upper castes.
The Congress, out of power for 22 years, is looking to make the most of the situation. It is reaching out to disgruntled groups and tasted success on Saturday after other backward class (OBC) leader Alpesh Thakor announced his plan to join the party.
The 39-year-old Thakor, who heads the OBC, ST, SC Ekta Manch and is the founder of the Gujarat Kshatriya-Thakor Sena, said, “Rahul Gandhi will take part in our rally on October 23 and I will join the Congress.”
The Congress was also confident of securing the support of Hardik Patel, the 24-year-old Patidar leader who is heading the community’s stir for reservation, sources said. It was also trying to get Dalit rights campaigner and lawyer Jignesh Mevani on its side.
The BJP, however, managed to win away two of Patel’s aides --- Varun Patel and Reshma Patel. The two joined the party after a meeting with chief minister Vijay Rupani, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel and state party chief Jitu Vaghani during a BJP parliamentary board meeting that was also attended by Shah.
(With PTI inputs)
First Published: Oct 22, 2017 14:04 IST