Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi castigated the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre for its “total inaction” in coming to the aid of the Indian workers in Angola in Africa, who were allegedly subjected to atrocities by their employers there. At least 40 Gujaratis are among those allegedly being held “captive” by the Angolan police.
On his way to Petlad in central Gujarat to address a gathering of farmers on Saturday, Mr. Modi called on the parents of Vijaykumar Valmik, one of the workers who first contacted the Indian authorities there. He also sent home video clippings taken clandestinely on his mobile phone camera to inform the country about the sordid plight of the Indian workers in a cement plant at Sembo in Angola.
Mr. Modi expressed deep anguish at the difficulties being faced by the Indians there and promised the families that all possible measures would be taken to rescue the Indian workers hiding in jungles to escape the alleged police brutalities.
Mr. Modi, who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday requesting him to direct the Indian Embassy in Angola to intervene in the matter immediately, told the farmers' rally that it was shocking that even 24 hours after the government came to know about the Indian citizens' plight on a foreign land, the Centre had failed to “raise even its little finger” to come to their aid.
Enumerating the steps being taken by his government for the development of the agricultural sector, Mr. Modi lambasted his critics, particularly the Opposition Congress leaders, who were accusing him of “frittering away” the farm lands to industries at throwaway prices to benefit some of his “favourite industrialists.”
He said that if cultivable lands in the State had shrunk because of allotment to industrial sector, Gujarat would not have succeeded in ushering in an “agricultural revolution” registering an all-time high 11 per cent growth rate as against the national average of a mere three per cent.
Besides registering 11 per cent growth rate, success stories also included large increase in cotton production and higher output in the dairy industry.
Criticising the Centre for being “insensitive” to the farmers' problems, Mr. Modi repeated his cliché of “Nehru-versus-Sardar Patel” and claimed that had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel been the first Prime Minister instead of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the condition of the farmers would have been different. “The farmers in the entire country would have been as progressive and prosperous as the farmers in Gujarat.”