BJP announces sops ahead of Gujarat elections

Virendra Pandit Ahmedabad | Updated on January 08, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP President Amit Shah at the ‘Gujarat Gaurav Mahasammelan’ rally in Ahmedabad on Monday   -  PTI

State govt waives interest on farm loans; Modi to inaugurate ‘dream project on Oct 22

With Assembly elections in Gujarat likely to be announced after Diwali, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Monday declared a waiver of interest on farm loans of up to ₹3 lakh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a visit to his home State, declared that he will inaugurate his “dream project” on Sunday, October 22. He simultaneously attacked the Congress for “spreading pessimism” about the economy and being “anti-Gujarat”.

Monday’s public rally was seen as the BJP’s biggest show of strength before the announcement of elections. The PM, who has been visiting his home State frequently, said he would return to Gujarat on October 22 to inaugurate the Roll-On, Roll-Off (RORO) ferry across the Gulf of Cambay, which will cut the journey time between Ghogha (Bhavnagar) and Dahej (Bharuch) from eight hours to one. Subsequently, it will also link Hajira.

Addressing a mammoth gathering of party workers, Modi tore into the Congress and its leadership, accusing the Opposition party of being ‘anti-development’ and focused on dynasty, corruption, communalism and casteism. “The Congress has historically been biased towards the Gujarat leaders and perpetrated atrocities on them,” he said.

Earlier, Rupani said the State exchequer would incur a burden of over ₹700 crore following its decision to waive interest on farm loans. This would benefit 25 lakh farmers in the State, he said. So far, they were getting loans at an interest rate of 7 per cent. Of this, the Centre and the State bore 4 per cent and 2 per cent respectively by way of subsidy, respectively, while the farmer paid the balance 1 per cent interest, which has now been waived.

BJP President Amit Shah gave a call to “weed out” the Congress and questioned Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s claims on development, saying he (Shah) recently laid the foundation stone for the District Collector’s office in Amethi which has traditionally elected the Nehru-Gandhi family.

The PM accused the Opposition of creating obstacles in the BJP’s efforts for development, the way the demons disturbed the saints’ “yajna” in earlier times. “While other parties believed in dynasties, muscle or money power, the BJP derived its strength from its dedicated workers.” Without naming the Congress, Modi lambasted it for “stooping low”, losing the capacity to think positively, fomenting negativism, and being biased towards Gujarat leaders, be it Sardar Patel, his daughter Maniben, Morarji Desai or even its own senior leader Madhavsinh Solanki who had to resign in the Bofors controversy. “Even Amitbhai(Shah) was jailed just to annoy me.”

He accused the Congress with failing to complete the Narmada project just because Sardar Patel had conceived it, and charged the Opposition party of being “shameless, abusive and a liar”.

“As the PM, I have dusted out 90 incomplete dam projects worth ₹12 lakh crore pending from the Congress era.”

Challenging the Congress on the issue of “Vikas”, Modi cautioned the people not to be “misled” on this. “The Congress has invented this issue as it has no other poll plank. If the Congress was right, why did a quarter of its MLAs leave it recently?”

Switching to Gujarati, the PM assured the business community to trust the BJP and its government’s word on the issue of GST which, he said, had been approved by all political parties. “We are making efforts to sort out pending bottlenecks, if any, in periodical GST Council meetings.” He also assured them that their old records will not be scrutinised again. “Some people are trying to incite honest businessmen.”

He urged the people of North Gujarat “not to forgive” the Congress whose then Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, he stated, had opposed the bounty of Narmada waters released to the region without permission from the neighbouring State.

Modi also questioned the Congress’s reported move to observe “Black Day” on November 8 when demonetization was announced last year. “We are going to observe it as a Black Money Mukti Diwas”.

He said, for the BJP, elections means “Vikasvaad” while for the Congress, the polls mean “Vanshvaad” (dynasticism). “We are going to win. And they are set to lose.”

In his speech, Amit Shah enumerated the achievements of Modi as Gujarat CM and said as the PM the senior leader had ensured that his home state got Rs.1.58 lakh crore as per the 14th Finance Commission, a quantum jump from the Rs.63,000 crore provided by the preceding 13th Finance Commission. “Our governments have reduced the 16% interest levied on farm loans until 1995 to zero per cent now.”

The BJP president reminded party workers that, post-Diwali, it will be a “prestige issue” for them to win 150 seats targeted, out of 182, in the Gujarat Assembly. “The BJP is like Angad Ka Pair in Gujarat. Nobody can unseat us!” he announced.

Published on October 16, 2017

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