Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated first phase of the ambitious Narmada water-based pipeline project that aims to bring the Narmada water to fill 115 dams and reservoirs in 11 districts of Saurashtra, a water starved and rain deficit region.
In the first public rally in the State after he became the Prime Minister in May 2014, Mr. Modi addressed a gathering of around 50,000 people, mostly BJP workers brought over in more than 1,000 State transport and private buses.
Mr. Modi, in a 40-minute speech in chaste Gujarati, highlighted the schemes and programmes launched by his government. He stressed that “Gujarat will always take pride in what a son of Gujarati is doing for the welfare of the people in the country."
Mr. Modi spoke at length about pro-farmer schemes like crop insurance, irrigation, rural road connection and providing urea and fertilizers and gas connection to the poor and villages.
“Anandiben had a complaint that I don't come to Gujarat after going to Delhi. Many workers also had the same complaint. But you know it well that since you sent me to Delhi, I was new there and had to learn many things. Now I am settled so will keep visiting to ensure that you don't have any complaint," Mr. Modi said in the beginning of his speech, which did not touch upon any burning issues like the Patidar quota stir or State-wide agitation by Dalits protesting against atrocities.
The Prime Minister gave credit to all Gujaratis for starting “era of politics of development in the country" while listing his achievements in raising the agriculture output, building water bodies and canals to conserve water and provide irrigation during his tenure as Chief Minister from October 2001 to May 2014.
“When I became the CM, farmers used to do agitation demanding electricity. I told them to focus on water conservation instead and the results are before you. Six lakh water bodies like reservoirs, check dams and farm ponds were built across the state. Whatever I have learnt here and whatever Gujarat has taught me is now helping me in serving the country and entire country is benefiting from that," he said.
Mr. Modi claimed that without starting any new factory of fertilizers, the Central government had increased the production of urea by 20 lakh tonne a year and as a result, farmers in the country were now getting urea and fertilizers on time.
“Earlier, fertilizer subsidy will be cornered by chemical factories but now subsidy directly goes to the farmers."
The Prime Minister profusely praised the former Chief Minister, Anandiben Patel, and her successor, Vijay Rupani, for continuing the “development journey of the State" and mentioned about Gujarat's performance in distributing almost two crore LED bulbs in less than 100 days and building largest number of toilets as part of the Swachh Bharat movement.