Even as the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, returned from his much-publicised visit to Japan, the State Government is grappling with the ‘ground realities’ arising out of public discontent over a variety of issues. Its attempts to paint a rosy picture of the visit were virtually ‘washed out’ as a drought now looms large in the State after a gap of over a decade due to the failure of the monsoon.

In an official press release, the State Government said Mr Modi was the “only Chief Minister” from India to have been invited by the Japanese Government and that he received “unprecedented welcome” in Tokyo. It also listed the Japanese dignitaries, including the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Katsuya Okada, he met with during 65-odd meetings, and cited the dinner hosted by the Japanese Government in his honour.

“Mr Narendra Modi left a lasting impact in the hearts and minds of the people of Japan about Brand Gujarat,” it said.

But, soon after his return, while Mr Modi rushed to take “stock of the situation in wake of the delayed rainfall” in the State at a high-level meeting in Gandhinagar, his officials, who tried to brief the media persons here about the “successful visit” had to beat a hasty retreat half-way through in the face of strong opposition and slogan-shouting by a group of workers from the Opposition Congress women’s wing and cooperative bodies, who had entered the venue and were sitting silently among the media persons for some time.

Denounce Modi

The demonstrators carried placards denouncing Mr Modi as “anti-farmer”, “pro-businessmen” and “a CM who brought benefits to businessmen, not for the people.”

The sloganeers, asking the Modi Government to arrange for water for the people and fodder for their cattle, made it impossible for the officials and some businessmen to interact with the media and refused the leave the auditorium — instead, the officials had to leave the venue amid bedlam as the few security men failed to oust the demonstrators.

Earlier, Mr Parimal Nathwani, Group President, Reliance Industries Ltd and a Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand, said Mr Modi was received “like a Prime Minister” during the Japan visit. “The Japanese believe in his leadership, and I believe they would invest in Gujarat in a big way.”

Some other speakers also spoke in a similar vein, showering encomiums on the CM, without giving any concrete details about the outcome of the four-day-long “highly successful” visit.

M Maheshwar Sahu, Principal Secretary (Industries), tried to pacify the sloganeers. “The CM returned midnight last night and was busy until 3 am. You don’t know how tired he is and what he is going to bring to Gujarat,” he said.

Later, outside the auditorium, Mr Sahu said the Japanese are likely to set up a township near the Becharaji temple, about 100 km from Ahmedabad, where Maruti Suzuki India Ltd has been allotted 700 acres of land to set up a new manufacturing plant. However, he did not elaborate.

virendra.pandit@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 29, 2012)
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