Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday continued his indirect attack on the social media campaign, Vikas Gando Thayo Che, which mocks the claims of development made by the Gujarat government and the Centre. He dedicated two medical colleges and hospitals — one each in Vadnagar and Himmatnagar of Sabarkantha district — and a bus station and a town hall in Vadnagar, to the people.
Modi also launched the central government’s Intensified Mission Indradhanush, a programme to achieve full immunization by 2018, and a mobile phone application for workers in the health sector.
This was Modi’s first visit to Vadnagar, his home town, after becoming PM. Addressing a huge gathering, he referred emotionally to seeing many old friends and known faces while carrying out a roadshow on familiar terrain.
“Today, I got the chance to see old friends, many of whom have now even lost their teeth. I could see old friends who are walking with a stick,” he said.
Modi said he had resolved after assuming office to increase medical seats across the country so that larger numbers of students could study medicine, and medical facilities could be made available to larger numbers of people. The governments that followed Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s were “vikas ke dushman (enemies of development)”, Modi said, adding it was only his NDA government that had brought a new health policy.
Speaking before Modi, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said the Agricultural Produce Market Committee at Vadnagar, closed years ago, would be reopened. Modi thanked Rupani for this in his speech, and said he had got a number of requests for development projects in Vadnagar like a railway overbridge to connect the old and new Vadnagar towns, and a hanging bridge over the Sharmistha Lake.
“Tamne hanging biridge gamshe? (Would you like a hanging bridge?) Medical college bani to gami? (Did you like the starting of a medical college?) Saras majanu bus station banyu to gamyu? (Did you like the nice bus station?) Saras majanu railway station banyu to gamyu? (Did you like the nice railway station?)”
Each question from Modi received an emphatic yes from the audience in reply.
Modi then asked, “Ene vikas kahevay? (Can this be called development?) Tamne vikas game chhe? (Do you like development?) Vikas jaruri chhe? (Is development necessary?)”
Again, each question was answered with an emphatic “Ha (yes)”. Something would be done about the demand relating to the Sharmistha lake, Modi said.
The Prime Minister, who spoke for nearly 30 minutes in a mix of Hindi and Gujarati, concluded his speech with a reference to the Hatkeshwar Mahadev temple in Vadnagar, where he performed puja before addressing the gathering.
“I have moved from Vadnagar which is a town of Bhole Baba to Kashi (Varanasi, his constituency) which is also a town of Bhole Baba. Bhole Baba has the capacity to drink and digest poison. The blessings of Bhole Baba, which I have got from here is my biggest strength. And since 2001, because of the strength of Bhole Baba’s blessings, I have been digesting poison. No matter how venomous the people I face are, I have been persistently serving the country,” he said.