Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday lashed out at the Congress party, which has been vocally raising questions about the delay in announcement of polls by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in Gujarat. Without naming the Congress Modi, who was speaking in Vadodara, said ‘they’ had no right to question the ECI as it was due to the ‘recounting allowed by the ECI’ that the Congress party won its single Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat in August this year. Modi also warned state governments who were ‘opposed to development’ of receiving ‘no help from the Central government’.
Modi was speaking in Vadodara, where he inaugurated and laid foundations of several projects of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation amounting to Rs 1,140 crores as well as the foundation of the expansion of the Capacity Expansion Project of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL)’s approximately 1,040 km Mundra-Delhi Petroleum Product pipeline (MDPL) from its existing 5 to 8 Million Metric Tonnes Per Annum (MMTPA) at a total cost of Rs.1879 crores. Beginning his speech with Diwali and New Year greetings for the audience, Modi said in Gujarati, “Today, in a single day, I have inaugurated development works in Vadodara worth over Rs 3650 crores. It is my honour. At one time, the budget of the entire state of Gujarat used to be Rs 8000 crores and today, Vadodara alone has seen inauguration and foundations of Rs 3650 crores. This is unprecedented. And, they (opposition) keep asking what is he going to do in Gujarat after Diwali? Doesn’t Vadodara have a right on me?”
Modi, who had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Vadodara as one of his two constituencies, went on to launch an attack on the Congress party without taking names. Modi said, “They could not tell me anything directly, so they began attacking the Election Commission of India. These are the same people, who when they saw the result of the counting of (Rajya Sabha) election and realised that they had lost, ran to the ECI to plead for a recounting of votes. The ECI considered their plea and allowed recounting. Such people, who won an election because of the ECI have no moral right to question the ECI.” Congress leaders have been questioning the ECI over the delay in announcement of voting dates and enforcement of Model Code of Conduct in poll-bound Gujarat, while dates for simultaneous polls in Himachal Pradesh have already been announced.
Modi went on to warn governments who are “Vikas virodhi” (opposition to development) and said that the Central government would not dole out a single penny to such states. “We are clear in our working. Each penny of the public money will be spent towards the well-being of every citizen and for development projects. Our priority is development. We will not give a single penny to those opposing development.” Referring to the advantage of having same party Union and State governments, Modi said that amidst all the “injustice” meted out to Gujarat during previous governments, the state benefited “a little” when Janta Party’s Late Morarji Desai was the Prime Minister while Babubhai Patel was Chief Minister of Gujarat during 1977 to 1979.
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Modi said, “When Morarji Desai was Prime Minister and Babu Patel was Chief Minister of Gujarat, the state got a little benefit from Morarjibhai… but as Chief Minister, I went to the Central government to seek permission for installation of gates on Narmada Dam, I was constantly asked, ‘Modiji, wo kaam ab tak nahi huya kya?’ (Hasn’t that work been completed yet, Modiji?)… I must say today that Gujarat was able to recover from the ravaging 2001 Bhuj earthquake because it was Atalji (Bihari Vajpayee) government at the Centre. Had it not been Atalji’s government, Gujarat would have taken 15 years to limp back to normalcy.”
Modi enlisted the ‘development projects’ undertaken by the Central government since taking over as Prime Minister and said that the government was committed to providing “electricity for all” and “homes for all” by 2022. At the Vadodara event, Modi also handed over symbolic keys to tribal beneficiaries of various Low Income Group schemes of the Gujarat Housing Board from Panchmahals and Chhota Udepur district. Modi also laid the foundation of housing projects of 3000 units of the state housing board.
Earlier, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani also announced that the state government would purchase groundnuts from farmers at a MSP of Rs 950, which is Rs 100 higher than the usual market price. Groundnut has seen a bumper yield this year in the state. Rupani also warned the opposition that Modi will visit Gujarat more often for election campaigns in the days to come. Rupani said, “I want them (opposition) to open their ears and listen to this warning; in the coming days, Narendrabhai will be in the open ground of election campaign and will visit Gujarat more often. When Modiji sets the mood for the election, no one will be spared.”
Modi proceeded from Navlakhi ground to Vadodara airport, covering a distance of 14 kilometers in a road show. Although he remained seated inside his vehicle escorted with heavy security, at two points ahead of the airport, he stepped on the open door of the vehicle, waving to the waiting crowds.