Local issues like shutting down of mines that led to unemployment took a back seat in this tribal village as BJP candidate from Chhota Udepur Ramsinh Rathwa’s campaign focused on how Narendra Modi would be India’s best bet to contain Pakistan and China.
BJP leaders Rathwa, state minister of Roads and Building Development Jaydrathsinhji Parmar and former Congress MLA Udesinh Baria who is now with the BJP, likened devipurush Modi to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, calling him the only hope for the nation.
“Modiji has immensely developed Gujarat. But the issue of Pakistan can not be resolved by the state government. Protecting the country from infiltration from Pakistan or China is the Centre’s responsibility, but they have failed. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the PM, he oversaw the Kargil War and taught the Pakistani infiltrators a lesson. Today Pakistan is killing our soldiers, and Congress is doing nothing about it,” Parmar said, adding, “Similarly, when the US told Vajpayeeji not to carry out nuclear tests, he didn’t care. He showed the world that India was a superpower. The BJP has always defended the nation and now Modi will do that.”
Rathwa, on his part, blamed the prime reason for closure of mines on “lack of forest and environmental sanctions by the Centre”. His campaign was all about “vote for BJP to make Gujarat Gaurav Narendra Modi the Prime Minister to enable him to handle national issues and bring development projects to the states”. Meanwhile, the former Congress leader Baria pointed out, “Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation of the Narmada dam, but it was not built during the 17 years of his prime ministerial tenure, neither during his daughter Indira Gandhi’s rule. When Modiji came to power, he ensured that it was done. Now, the Centre is not allowing him to raise the height of the dam, which will allow water to reach more villages.”
Hinting at the UPA government’s failure to keep their promises, Rathwa said, “For over 50 years, one political family held the PM’s post. The Congress government passed the food security Bill months before the elections, but they refused to donate the surplus grains rotting in the godowns to the poor, despite a court order to that effect. These are all election gimmicks. Since the party is a sinking ship, leaders are abandoning it.”
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The crowd, mostly comprising men, simply looked on as the leaders spoke of defence policies and cap on export of cotton by the UPA government. Meanwhile, the womenfolk, who watched, huddled in a group, complained how they have to travel all the way to Vadodara, a good 80 km from their own villages, for medical treatment or emergency services in the absence of a multi-speciality hospital in their areas.