The Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president, Arjun Modhwadia, launched a scathing attack against finance minister Nitin Patel’s comments on migrants contributing to the rise in the number of poor in the state.
Addressing mediapersons at the state party headquarters, Modhwadia said on Tuesday that Patel’s comments amounted to “hate campaign against migrants and deserved severe condemnation”. He said Patel’s observations exhibited the “rotten mindset of BJP and its leaders”.
The Congress leader, who on Monday had demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Narendra Modi over the increase in the number of people in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category in the last decade, demanded an apology from Modi for the comments by his minister. “Patel’s comments are against Gujarat and India’s culture and in very bad taste,’’ Modhwadia reiterated.
He demanded that Patel be immediately stripped of his position as state government spokesperson.
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Nitin Patel’s comments had come in reply to a question by mediapersons on the increase in the number of people in the BPL category people as per the government’s own records even as the Modi government claimed that Gujarat was ahead of all states in industrial growth. As per state government records, there were 38 lakh people in BPL category with a daily income of Rs. 11 in rural areas and Rs. 17 in urban areas. Nitin Patel said they were all migrants from other states. However, Modhwadia reminded Patel that there were no migrants in rural and tribal areas and how could he substantiate his claims.
Migrants, on the other hand, had always contributed to the state’s prosperity. He cited the example of Dr Verghese Kurien, pioneer of `White Revolution’ in the state, and Ravi John Mathai, who established Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A). Modhwadia said that migrants from Kathiawad and North Gujarat regions to Surat and Ankleshwar made huge contributions to the growth of the two cities.