Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the first phase of an ambitious pipeline project here on Tuesday to bring Narmada water to 115 reservoirs in 11 districts of Saurashtra, a water-starved region of Gujarat.
Addressing his first public rally in the poll-bound State after becoming the Prime Minister in May 2014, Mr. Modi lauded all Gujaratis for starting “an era of politics of development in the country”.
He listed his achievements in raising farm output and building waterbodies and canals to facilitate irrigation when he was Chief Minister from October 2001 to May 2014.
Mr. Modi spoke for 40 minutes in chaste Gujarati, highlighting the Centre’s schemes for farmers such as crop insurance, irrigation, rural road links and fertilizer supplies.
The State “will always take pride in what a son of Gujarat is doing for the welfare of the country”, he said.
Around 50,000 people attended the meeting, and most of them were BJP workers brought to the venue in over 1,000 government and private buses.
“Anandiben [Patel, the former Chief Minister] had a complaint that I did not come to Gujarat after going to Delhi. Many workers also had the same complaint. But you know that since you sent me to Delhi, I was new there and had to learn many things. Now, I am settled, so I will keep visiting [the State] to ensure that you don’t have any complaint,” the Prime Minister said at the beginning of his speech, which did not touch upon the Patidar and Dalit agitations.
“When I became Chief Minister, farmers used to stage agitations demanding electricity. I asked them to focus on water conservation instead, and the results are before you. Six lakh waterbodies were built across the State.”
“We had started Beti Bachao here, and now you see the success of India’s women athletes at the Rio Olympics. We used to say Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao; now, they are adding Beti Khilao,” he said.
Mr. Modi said that without starting any new fertilizer factory, the Union government increased urea production by 20 lakh tonnes a year; as a result, farmers were getting fertilizers on time. “Earlier, fertilizer subsidy would be cornered by chemical factories, but now subsidy directly goes to farmers. Give a farmer from any part of India water and see the wonders he does.”
He praised Ms. Patel and her successor Vijay Rupani for continuing the “development journey of the State” and pointed to Gujarat’s performance in distributing two crore LED bulbs in less than 100 days and building the largest number of toilets as part of Swachh Bharat, a cleanliness campaign.(BBC,2016)