Shinzo Abe's Gujarat visit: How BJP is using Japanese PM's trip to improve its chances in upcoming polls

To say that grand preparations are being made for Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Gujarat on Wednesday would be an understatement.

In a first, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Abe will take part in a road show in Ahmedabad. "This is for the first time in the country when our prime minister along with the prime minister of another country is doing a joint road show. The Japanese prime minister is landing here directly on 13 September. This makes the occasion more important, as he is visiting a state on the very first day of his India visit," Gujarat BJP unit president Jitubhai Vaghani told reporters.

As Vaghani pointed out, this will indeed be a rare occasion when the head of a state skips New Delhi during his or her bilateral visit to India. This fact itself shows how important the Modi-Abe visit will be for BJP as far as the upcoming Gujarat election is concerned.

File image of Narendra Modi. AP

File image of Narendra Modi. AP

As this Livemint article also points out, the Modi-Abe visit and the grand preparations for the same should be seen as the one of the first major steps BJP is taking for its campaign in the upcoming state polls.

In fact, a senior BJP leader — speaking on condition of anonymity — had said in the report that BJP targeting Congress in such an intense manner showed signs of nervousness in the saffron party because Congress had been out for power in Gujarat for over 20 years now.

The pothole-ridden roads of Ahmedabad are getting a makeover and state government bureaucrats are getting new visiting cards printed for the visit, reported Business Standard.

Vaghani also said that both the leaders will be accorded a "grand welcome" along the route of the road show.

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation's standing committee chairman Pravin Patel said a large number of people, including singing troupes who will be performing at 28 different locations along the route, will greet Modi and Abe.

"On the entire route of the the road show, which will also pass from Sabarmati Riverfront, we have erected 28 small stages where dancers from 28 different states, all dressed in their traditional attire, would showcase their performance when these leaders pass," said Patel.

Apart from such extravagant preparations, some projects planned for Gujarat will also be highlighted.

On Thursday, Abe and Modi will attend the ceremony for the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project, commonly referred to as the Bullet Train project, which will give India its first bullet train.

The 508-kilometre project will entail an estimated cost of Rs 1,10,000 crore. "Out of this Rs 1,10,000 crore, Japan is giving a loan of Rs 88,000 crore and the interest on this loan is minimal, ie 0.1 percent," Goyal said.

"This loan is to be repaid to Japan in 50 years. Loan repayment period of 50 years with 15 years grace."

Of the 508-kilometre stretch, 92 percent of the route will be elevated, six percent in tunnel and the rest two percent will be on the ground.

That is, 508-kilometre stretch will have 468 kilometres of elevated track, 27-kilometre inside tunnel and the remaining 13 kilometres on the ground.

The high-speed train will also pass through the country's biggest tunnel measuring 21 kilometres, of which seven kilometres will be under the sea.

On the Ahmedabad-Mumbai route, a total of 12 stations have been proposed that include Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati.

The distance of 508 kilometres will be covered in two hours and seven minutes by the bullet train if it stops at four stations namely Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Mumbai.

According to railway ministry officials, the operating speed of the bullet train will be 320 kilometres per hour and maximum speed will be 350 kilometres per hour.

If the bullet train will stop at all 12 stations, then it will cover the distance in two hours and fifty-eight minutes.

In a day, the high-speed train will make 70 Ahmedabad-Mumbai sorties.

Moreover, according to The Economic Times, Gujarat has also planned a second Japanese-supported industrial park at Sanand. It is planned on over 1,000 hectares, about ten times the size of the existing one at Mandal. This park is expected to attract over Rs 20,000 crore of investment.

Plans for a residential colony probably for expats — at par with Japanese standards — are also being made. Investments in Gujarat from Japan are also expected to rise in the near future.

Bilateral talks between Indian and Japanese delegations are also expected and sevral MoUs are expected to be signed at Mahatma Mandir, Gandhinagar.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Sep 13, 2017 16:11 PM

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