As the BJPs prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi heads for his first public meeting in Uttar Pradesh,the epicentre of the fight for India,on October 19,his trusted lieutenant and the party in-charge of the state,Amit Shah,tripped over himself in what can only be excused as his enthusiasm for the big event.
Addressing a rally in Mathura on October 2,he said: Does UP have medical trauma centres every 40 km? No,but in Gujarat,every tehsil does. Do the ill,the elderly,or pregnant women have access to quick ambulance services? No,but in Gujarat an ambulance arrives within 60 minutes of calling. Most people in UP are engaged in agriculture,but have you heard of agriculture growing at 19 per cent? It has happened in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
Almost everything about that speech was factually wrong,as the Twitter world quickly pronounced. Forget tehsils,even all districts in Gujarat dont have trauma centres. Chief Minister Narendra Modi had expressed a wish to have every district covered by a trauma centre in 2011,but it hasnt happened so far.
The 60-minute call time for an ambulance was an obvious blooper that was instantly realised by the BJP camp as well. A Facebook page called NarendraModi4PM that copied Shahs Mathura speech verbatim from news websites corrected the quote to 6 minutes. The Gujarat government Health and Family Welfare Department websites claim about the 108 GVK-EMRI ambulance service,in fact,asserts: 99 per cent of the calls received are attended in less than one ring,which is better than global standards.
As for the agricultural growth rate,it is Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Madhya Pradesh that hit the 19 per cent mark in 2011-12 a fact that Modi perhaps doesnt forget easily. In fact,he himself acknowledges the Gujarat rate to be 11 per cent.
Shah is a man of few words,and hence there has been no explanation forthcoming on what he shot off from the stage the other day. But then,when it comes to his close confidant,Modi appears willing to give a long rope. The man who wrote that he does not have an e-mail ID in his affidavit to the Election Commission Shah said so filing nominations for the Assembly elections in December holds the task of mobilising youth throughout the country via social media.
Perhaps Modi knows something we dont.
Leena is Editor,Ahmedabad