MAKING HIS maiden Independence Day address to the state on Monday, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani appealed citizens to resolve to maintain peace and brotherhood in the state and project an image of Gujarat being a peaceful state even as he curtailed his programmes in view of death of religious guru Pramukh Swami.
“Let us ensure that the Gujarat of Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Narmad, Ravishankar Raval, Morari Bapu, Pramukh Swami, Narsinh Mehta, Mirabai and that of Narendra Modi keeps on shining. Let us not allow anything to happen which may threaten Gujarat’s brotherhood and peace. Let us demonstrate to the world that Gujarat is peaceful. And this Independence Day, with folded hands, I request people to adopt the slogan of Sauno Sath, Sauno Vikas (everybody’s cooperation, everybody’s development) and to resolve to make our future bright, give a direction to future generations by making Gujarat the best state,” Rupani said while delivering his Independence Day speech after unfurling the Triocolour on Parshuram Pottery Ground in Morbi town of Gujarat.
Rupani’s appeal comes in the backdrop of the ongoing agitation by politically and economically influential Patidar community demanding inclusion in Other Backward Classes (OBC) category and subsequent reservation in government jobs and admissions to educational institutes and the Dalit stir caused by public flogging of seven Dalits in Una while they were skinning a dead cow on July 11. Both agitations have turned violent at various stages leading to loss of lives and property. The Patidar agitation has also mobilsed some of the OBC communities who allege that Patidar stir is a ploy to abolish the system of reservation and have raised the prospect of caste-conflict. Morbi district had witnessed large-scale violence related to Patidar stir in August and October last year and curfew had to be imposed.
The CM said the development of the state was based on peace and harmony. “(Our dream is) where every Gujarati himself is a government, every Gujarati is capable and his capability, strength, dynamism and direction will take Gujarat to new heights. What Gujarat has done, the unprecedented development which it has achieved is being discussed in the world. In entire India, Gujarat has achieved the highest rate of growth. The foundation of this continued progress over the last 21 years has been supported by three factors—peace, safety and fraternity,” Rupani said while reading during his 27 minute long speech.
Rupani, who replaced Anandiben Patel as the CM of the state on August 7, said his government will make Gujarat the best state in the country. “We are going to make Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of Antyodaya (welfare of the last poor) and Swami Vivekananda’s dream of making Indian jagatguru (the master of the world) a reality. With the help of a corruption-free, sensitive, and well-meaning government; taking everybody along and ensuring social harmony; above castism, communalism, regionalism and linguistic differences; and helped by the unifying force of nationalism and patriotism, Gujarat will become the best state in India,” said Rupani.
Rupani announced that when 65 per cent population of the country is aged below 35, the state government will recruit 67,000 youth in one year. He also said that work of installing gates on Narmada Dam will be completed by September 2017 and that the completion of the dam project will be a game-changer for the state. “We have brought 67 lakh hectare land under irrigation… Through SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation) Yojna 10 lakh hectare land in 11 districts of Saurashtra will get irrigation water. Work is on to lay 1,126 kilometre-long link pipelines to fill 115 dams of Saurashtra with Narmada water,” the CM, who himself hails from Saurashtra further said.
Morbi district was carved out from Rajkot and Surendranagar districts in 2013 and it was hosting state-level celebration of a national festival for the first time. On the occasion, the CM also announced to widen Rajkot-Morbi state highway by making it four-lane, build 10 new sub-stations to augment power supply in the district and reduce prices of piped natural gas to ceramic factories in the district by Rs1.5 to Rs2.7 per unit. He also announced to set up a new industrial estate in Chhatar village which will be spread over 50 bigha of land.
However, soon after acknowledging greetings of citizens by riding in an open jeep on the Parshuram Pottery Ground and honouring prominent citizens, Rupani took off for Salangpur to receive Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He did not stay back to see an hour-long cultural programmes planned on the day.
The PM also flew down to Shalangpur to pay tribute to Pramukh Swami, the head of Bochasanvasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan sect which has vast following in the state. The 95-year-old Swami had breathed his last on Saturday evening, in Salangpur in Botad district in Saurashtra region. On Sunday, Gujarat governor OP Kohli had canclled his At Home function in Morbi as mark of respect to the departed preacher.
In the cultural programme after the flag hoisting, more than 2200 students and artistes performed various forms of folk-dance of Gujarat while policemen and women of the state performed daredavil stunts on their bikes and horseback. A plantoon of Madhya Pradesh police was also in Morbi to take part the I-Day celebration event in Gujarat.