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BJP leaders enlisted “development projects” of the party-led state government associating each with the “vision” Ambedkar had for the poor at the Samajik Samrasta rally in Vadodara on Saturday.
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel evoked Ambedkar’s thoughts on water management while enlisting the works of the Narendra Modi-led state government in laying a 1.25-lakh km water line across the state, within 12 years.
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Anandiben said, “Ambedkar had said that if we don’t utilise this water that surrounds our 7,500-km coastline, there will be drought when slowly rains will reduce. Today we are experiencing it. Because we never saved water and exploited ground water. But in Gujarat, we are self-sufficient. Gujarat has a 1,600km coastline and since the times of Narendra Modi has preserved each drop of water.”
Anandiben also evoked the contributions of Vadodara’s Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad who sponsored Ambedkar’s higher education at the Columbia University.
Attacking the Congress for not conferring the Bharat Ratna on the Dalit leader, BJP national vice-president Purshottam Rupala urged the Dalit community to “avenge the insult” meted out to the leader by the Congress party.
Speaking at the event in Vadodara, against a saffronised backdrop bearing a photograph of Dr Ambedkar, Rupala congratulated the party’s city unit for gathering a large crowd at the venue.
Addressing the gathering comprising BJP leaders, party workers and villagers from Anand, Kheda, Chhota Udepur, Mahisagar, Dahod, Panchmahal districts — the women dressed in crisp new saffron sarees distributed by the BJP, Rupala said, “When Ambedkar stood for elections, he was defeated by the Congress that contested against him. If you (Dalits) really think that Ambedkar is your leader, inspiration, saviour and hero, then it is your responsibility to avenge the defeat. It’s the duty of each Dalit of this country to ensure that the party which defeated Ambedkar and did not allow him to reach the Lok Sabha should be thrown out. I’m a Kathiyawadi and we keep records even.”
Attacking the Congress for vote-bank politics and exploiting Dalit votes, Rupala said, “The BJP posthumously conferred Bharat Ratna on the man who wrote the Constitution of India. Muslim league demanded that India be severed into pieces. It was Ambedkar who helped get people together. Sardar Patel made a unified Bharat but Congress did not think of conferring the Bharat Ratna on them. PM Modiji has given the slogan of ‘Congress mukt Bharat’ as it was his visionary approach towards the poor. He wanted to make Ambedkar’s dream come alive that cannot happen with Congress in power.”
Rupala cited the example of Gujarat’s 24-hour electricity after BJP came to power in the state.
Rupala said, “We take pride in the achievement but it’s not true that there was no electricity here. There was electricity in bungalows, institutions and where people could pay. It was in poor Dalit huts that there was no electricity. The BJP has kept the poor at the centre of all development projects. This is the Gujarat of Narsi Mehta, who sang bhajans in Dalit areas.”