It's promises galore for Gujarat, as Modi sets sights on assembly polls

Virendra Pandit Gandhinagar | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on March 08, 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, among others, at the Somnath Temple in Gujarat on Wednesday.

A hundred years ago, Barrister Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi — not yet christened by his benefactor Dr Pranjivan Mehta as the “Mahatma” — had, as part of his Bharat darshan, travelled straight from Varanasi to Veraval (Somnath Temple). Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, followed almost the same path when he arrived in Gujarat from Varanasi on Tuesday and worshipped Lord Somnath near Veraval on Wednesday morning.

This was Modi’s 10th visit to Gujarat since May 2014, when he left Gandhinagar for New Delhi on assuming the office of the Prime Minister.

In the 1990 Somnath-to-Ayodhya Toyota Rathyatra, Modi, Gujarat BJP General Secretary, was virtually the charioteer of his then-mentor Lal Krishna Advani. But Advani was not there on Wednesday, when Modi worshipped the Lord, flanked by former Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel, who is the Chairman of the Somnath Trust, and BJP President Amit Shah. The BJP veteran, who represents Gandhinagar in the Lok Sabha, however, did attend the Somnath Trust meeting as he has done for years.

Incidentally, Modi also noted that he had come straight from Varanasi to seek the blessings of Lord Somnath.

Shah, accompanied by his wife, had worshipped the Lord on Tuesday as well. The man missing on both days at Somnath was his protege Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, in view of the ongoing Budget Session in the Vidhan Sabha.

Barely has India sighed in relief after the poll fever in four states ended on Monday that election season has arrived in Gujarat earlier than expected. The Gujarat Assembly is due for election by December-end this year. However, sources said, these polls could also be advanced if the BJP comes out with flying colors in the ongoing elections to four states — UP, Punjab, Goa and Manipur — results of which will be out on March 11. The ruling party would make all efforts to retain its first and foremost political fortress of Gujarat.

Although Parliament’s ongoing Budget Session is resuming sittings on Thursday, this did not prevent Modi from making announcements in Gujarat. He virtually turned Santa Claus, coming home to celebrate the festival of colours Holi and to shower largesse on Gujarat.

So, after the PM’s latest announcements made over his two-day visit, Gujarat is likely to generate eight lakh jobs once the Dahej-based Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR) is completed; this project is expected to directly employ 32,000. With the Centre sanctioning conversion of eight state highways as 1,200-km-long national highways, Gujarat would get investments of Rs 12,000 crore. Besides, he said, Gujarat is set to receive investments of Rs 45,000 crore under various heads and also benefit from the Sagarmala Project for coastal area development across India at an investment of Rs 8 lakh crore. Fishermen, too, would be provided 50 per cent subsidy on speed boats priced up to Rs 1 crore.

The PM, while addressing a meeting at Veraval, said the Government planned an “iconic” bridge between Dwarka and Bet (Island) Dwarka in the Arabian Sea. Also, he became the first-ever PM in Independent India to visit the Union Territory of Diu and address a public meeting.

On Tuesday evening, he addressed a crucial meeting of BJP MLAs, MPs and Ministers at the CM’s residence, exhorting them to get ready for the coming polls in the State.

And on Wednesday, he addressed around 6,000 women sarpanchs from across India on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Smriti Irani, among others, were also present.

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Published on March 08, 2017
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