Sounding early poll bugle, Modi showers largesse on Gujarat

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

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Somnath Temple near Veraval in Gujarat on Wednesday

Promises jobs, spells out investments, announces scheme for fishermen

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).

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, followed almost the same path when he arrived in Gujarat from Varanasi. He offered prayers at the Somnath temple near Veraval on Wednesday.

This is 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, who was then Gujarat BJP General Secretary, was virtually the charioteer to his then-mentor LK Advani. But Advani was not there on Wednesday, when Modi offered prayers at the temple. He was instead joined by former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who is the Chairman of the Somnath Trust, and BJP President Amit Shah. Advani, who represents Gandhinagar in the Lok Sabha, however, attended the Somnath Trust meeting as he has done for several years now.

Visits Somnath temple

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

Amit Shah, accompanied by his wife, had offered prayers at the temple 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.

It now seems that the election season has arrived in Gujarat earlier than expected. The Gujarat Assembly is due for election by this December-end. However, sources said, the polls could also be advanced if the BJP comes out with flying colours in the elections to the four States — Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa and Manipur — the results of which will be out on March 11. The ruling party will make all efforts to retain its first and foremost political fortress of Gujarat. The Parliament’s Budget session is due to resume on Thursday, but this did not prevent Modi from making announcements in Gujarat. He virtually turned Santa Claus coming home to celebrate the festival of Holi and to shower largesse on Gujarat.

So, the Prime Minister, during his two-day visit to his home State, made several announcements. He said 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 people. With the Centre sanctioning conversion of eight State highways as 1,200-km-long national highways, Gujarat would get investments of ₹12,000 crore. Besides, he said, Gujarat is set to receive investments of ₹45,000 crore under various heads and also benefit from Sagarmala Project for coastal area development across India at an investment of ₹8 lakh crore. Fishermen, too, would be provided 50 per cent subsidy on speed boats priced up to ₹1 crore.

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

Meeting with MLAs, MPs

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

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 on the occasion.

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Published on March 08, 2017
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