On the occasion of the 145th Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, Union Home Minister Amit Shah accused the Opposition Congress on Friday of having failed to provide protection to the Yatra in Ahmedabad when it ruled Gujarat.
“There used to be an era, during the reign of Congress (laughs) when all used to get scared by the arrival of the day of Rath Yatra (thinking) if there will be a riot, if there will be firings. And it used to happen as well. On two occasions, daring attempts were made to forcibly tow away the chariot of God,” Shah told a public gathering in Rupal village in his Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency while inaugurating and laying foundation stones for developmental works worth Rs 210 crore in the region. Shah said the Rath Yatra had taken place for the past 145 years.
“But after the great people of Gujarat gave the power of Gujarat in the hands of the BJP, nobody can dare do any mischief with Rath Yatra. The days of curfew are gone,” the BJP leader said, referring to the tenures of chief ministers from Narendra Modi to Bhupendrabhai Patel.
“The Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath is a festival of the poor. On this day, God–after having blueberry, khichdi and moong–himself appears before those devotees who cannot visit the temple and have a glimpse of him,” he said at the start of his speech.
Continuing his attack on the Congress, Shah said, “In my lifetime, during my days of youth and adolescence, the governments had banned Rath Yatra thrice. The (Congress-led) government had dared to impose a ban on carrying out God’s Rath Yatra. They used to admit they were not capable of protecting the lord of the world, (though without saying it openly). But friends, Rath Yatra used to be carried out even then without the government’s permission. And today, it is being carried out in collaboration with and the cooperation of the government.”
Among the projects the Union minister laid the foundation stone for was a village beautification project for Rupal. The village has a famous temple of the goddess Vardaini, which was recently selected by the central government under the PRASAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive) scheme.
“Rupal has undergone many changes. I have seen the changes. But I want to assure you that when the time comes to vote for the BJP in 2024, Rupal will be so (developed) that you will not even recognise it,” Shah said.
As MP from the region, Shah assured all help to develop Rupal as a centre of pilgrimage.
Shah also said that out of the five Gandhinagar villages selected under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, three were in the top 10 in the country. Rupal and another village in the district, Bileshwarpura, are among the three.
On the occasion, Shah also got himself weighed against silver donated by donors. The silver will be used for renovating temples in the village.