Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his first visit to Vadodara since he was elected in 2014, on Saturday hinted at “surgical strikes” on black money. Speaking at an event — the Swavlamban Samajik Adhikarita Shivir — to distribute aids and assistance to the specially-abled in Vadodara, Modi asked the crowd in Hindi, “Do you know what the entire world is praising India for currently?” The crowd chorused, “Surgical strikes.”
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Amid the chorus, Modi continued in Gujarati, “The economic growth of the country continues despite two droughts. The entire world is looking up to the progress India is making in its economic sector. Do you remember what made news before 2014? If you don’t remember, go back and check the headlines in the newspapers between 2013 and 2014. (It will read) so many crores in this, so many crores in that, coal and so on. Now, after 2014, since you have handed over the responsibility to me, what are the headlines you read? That the government is distributing assistive aids for the divyang (specially-abled) brothers… As much as one lakh crore (black money) has been pocketed… I haven’t done a surgical strike on this issue yet. When I do, everything will tumble out of the closet.”
In the run-up to Modi’s visit, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) had put up billboards across the city that read, “Chhappan ka seena hai, sar uttha ke jeena hai” (have 56-inch chest, will hold head high). The BJP put up even bigger banners, featuring a pictorial timeline on Modi, since his days as a boy scout till recent times with defence personnel.
Modi focused on the need to “awaken responsibility among 1.25 crore Indians” towards persons with disability, but also emphasised on the efficiency of his government in reaching out to the marginalised and the needy sections of the country, unlike the “several crores of scams between 2013, 2014”.
Before Modi’s arrival, a cultural performance by the physically challenged and other professional performers made a direct reference to India’s recent surgical strikes across the LoC, with two performers, dressed as an Army officer and a terrorist, engaged in a gunfight.
Earlier, Modi inaugurated the new terminal of the Vadodara airport. “Two and three-tier cities have an equal potential for contributing to the country’s growth and development, if they can have the advantage of air connectivity. For the first time after independence, this government has prepared separate policy for the development of the aviation sector,” he said.
“Connectivity is very vital, both physically and digitally,” he said.