Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday accused the UPA government of an 'anti-Gujarat, anti-development attitude' in his address at a public meeting after inaugurating a slew of projects.
Modi made a veiled reference to the the possible pitfalls of electing a government led by a party different from the one at the Centre.
Modi said that as chief minister he suffered at the hands of the Congress-led UPA government as it would sit over development proposals.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 22, 2017
Mimicking former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a low soft tone, Modi said that every time he went to him with a request about laying sluice gates at the Narmada dam, he would say: "Abhi tak aapka ka am nahi hua" (Your work still not done).
The prime minister repeated this twice to sound like Manmohan Singh. Then, Modi went on to cite instances of the Morarji Desai government at the Centre and the Babubhai Jashbhai government in Gujarat as well as that of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Delhi and Keshubhai Patel in the state and his rule in Gujarat. The prime minister said progress had been achieved only when the government in the Centre was sympathetic to the state's interest and of the same party.
"If Atalji's government was not at Centre, Gujarat would have never emerged from the devastating earthquake (of January 2001). The Centre stood strongly with the Keshubhai Patel government," he claimed. "Gujarat should not let go of a single opportunity to benefit from the government at the Centre which is sympathetic to Gujarat."
Modi also hit out at the Congress stating that the only news during the UPA era was that of large-scale corruption. "One lakh crore rupees gone. Two lakh rupees gone. There was corruption in everything—from coal to submarines to helicopters." Listing out his government's priority programmes, such as providing electricity to every home by 2019 and a house to ever family by 2022, Modi criticised the Opposition for lack of vision. "To them, public welfare works are not the priority. They think it is their birthright to rule. They do not have capability to think or have vision," Modi said.
Again, he mimicked Rajiv Gandhi without naming him to claim that his own government would not procrastinate before launching development works. "Humey dekhna hain, hum dekhenge, humey sochna hain, hum sochenge... We do nothing like this, we implement projects in a decided time-frame," Modi said, trying to sound like the former prime minister.
Modi also inaugurated a Rs 650-crore roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) ferry service that reduces travel time by six hours between Saurashtra and South Gujarat in the election-bound state.
Breathtaking glimpses of the Ghogha-Dahej ferry service. Its inauguration is a landmark moment in Gujarat’s development journey. pic.twitter.com/Whzs2mOQI8 — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 22, 2017
Addressing the gathering after the inauguration, Modi blasted the Congress saying that the previous government in the Centre had stalled all Gujarat development projects by creating procedural hurdles in the name of the environment.
"When I was the chief minister, I faced hostility from the then central government. From Vapi to Mandvi in Kutch, they (the UPA government) had banned development in the entire coastal area of Gujarat. They had threatened to lock all our industries in the name of environment."
He said this had changed since he took power in Delhi and gave importance to the Gujarat development.
He said the ferry in the Gulf of Khambhat of the Arabian Sea would reduce the travel time between Bhavnagar district in western Gujarat's Saurashtra region and Dahej in Bharuch district in south Gujarat from seven hours to one hour, cutting the distance between the two places to 31 kilometres from 360 kilometres.
"It is a landmark project not only for India but also for the entire South-East Asia. It is a dream come true for the people of Gujarat."
The prime minister said the ro-ro ferry was like an "amrit"— the drink of immortality — bestowed upon to the people Gujarat as a blessing from the Hindu god of the oceans Varuna.
The dream of 6.5 crore Gujaratis had come true as the ferry service would lead to social and economic development in the region and bring thousands of new job opportunities, he said.
The prime minister said besides making the lives of crores of people easier, the service also brings them closer and saves fuel by decreasing the number of vehicles on the road.
"Imagine how much time and petrol this ferry service will save," he said, adding the facility would not be restricted to just one route.
"We are planning to link other places," he said, noting that plans were afoot to expand the service to Hazira and the union territory Diu-Daman at a later stage and various places in Saurashtra.
Calling coastal areas as gateways to progress, he said over the last three years, his government had been trying to develop coastal infrastructure that would "create over a crore employment opportunities".
The ferry service that had been getting delayed for various technical and financial issues since 1995 was first thought of in the early 1960s. The foundation stone for the current phase was laid by Narendra Modi as the chief minister in 2012. It is meant for passengers and would carry 500 of them at a time.
The second phase would ferry vehicles and even cruise boats would be made available later on.
Modi later travelled on the ferry to Dahej with many differently-abled children whom he called his "special guests".
The prime minister also inaugurated Sarvottam Dairy Cattle Feed Plant. He later flew to Vadodara to address a public rally and inaugurate more projects.
At Vadodara, Modi also said, " After we came to power, 80 percent houses received water in kitchen from taps." The prime minister said 3,600 crore projects have been either flagged off or foundation has been and recalled his promise to provide electricity to all villages by 2019.
Modi slammed the Congress for criticism over Gujarat poll dates and said those who survived because of recounting have no right to question the Election Commission. "Why are they asking the EC about me visiting Gujarat after Diwali?" Modi asked.
Warning states which have been demanding money, the prime minister said that development is the clear focus of the BJP government and those states which do not follow this will not get a single penny. He also said important decisions on economic reform would continue like before.
"On Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's birth anniversary on 31 October, we want India to participate in Run For Unity," Modi said. Later, Modi launched a grand road show which saw crowds chant "Modi, Modi" as he drove across Vadodara before leaving for Delhi.
The Gujarat Assembly election is due before 22 January, 2018 when its term ends. The Election Commission has not announced the poll dates as of now even citing it would bring in the imposition of the model code of conduct that would disrupt relief operation for flood-hit victims.
The Opposition parties have alleged that the poll panel has given time to the ruling BJP to announce sops for the people of Gujarat.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Oct 22, 2017 06:44 am | Updated Date: Nov 23, 2017 06:40 pm