A day after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) announced activist Medha Patkar as one of its candidates for the upcoming General elections, Gujarat Minister of State for Water Resources, Nanu Vanani raised concerns over the Narmada project.
“There was a red light for us on what we saw in news on television yesterday. A party (AAP) has announced a person (Medha Patkar) who has fought against the Narmada project all her life as its candidate for Lok Sabha elections,” Vanani said without taking name of AAP of Patkar. The minister was addressing a gathering of farmers from 11 districts in Saurashtra region of the state.
This is for the first time that a minister of the Gujarat government has expressed concern over a political move of the AAP.
“Now, the time has come to decide who do you want to send to the Parliament―those who stand for development or those who oppose it,” Vanani, who is a MLA from Katargam in Surat in South Gujarat, said.
The minister was speaking on the ceremony of breaking ground for the Rs10,800 crore project of the Gujarat government to fill up 115 dams in the dry Saurashtra region by pumping excess Narmada water through a pipeline network into them.
Vanani’s comments came after Aravind Kejriwal-led AAP announced to field Patkar, the leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan against the Narmada Dam project, from the Northeast Lok Sabha constituency in Mumbai in the General elections scheduled for this summer. Patkar has been opposing the project over issues of displacement and environment. She had announced full-fledged support to AAP last month.
Speaking from the same stage later, Gujarat Chief Minister and prime ministerial candidate of the BJP, Narendra Modi took a dig at the Centre for not allowing to install floodgates on the dam. The present height of the dam is 121 metres. The gates will take it to height of the dam to 138.68 metres.