In a bid to involve the rural masses in celebrating the golden jubilee of the existence of the State, the Gujarat government has planned an elaborate “Swarnim Gujarat Sankalp Rath Yatra” (Golden Gujarat Resolve Rath Yatra) to cover all the 19,165 villages in the State.

The separate state of Gujarat was created by bifurcating the erstwhile Bombay State on May 1, 1960.

State cabinet spokesman and Health and Tourism Minister Jaynarayan Vyas and Minister for Youth and Cultural Affairs Fakirbhai Vaghela said the special “raths” by converting the tractors would visit every village carrying with them the saga of the State’s development since its inception and would be preceded by village-level competitions and various programmes to create an awareness among the rural masses about the progress of the State.

The “rath yatra” will be flagged off by Governor Kamla Beniwal in the presence of Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Shaktisinh Gohil in Gandhinagar on February 12, the birth anniversary of Ravishankar Maharaj, considered to be the spiritual leader of the State, and would conclude on the birth anniversary of the framer of the constitution, Babasaheb Ambedkar, on April 14, a fortnight before the main celebrations for the “Golden Gujarat year” begin.

The State government had allotted one “rath” for each of the 223 talukas to cover the rural masses. This would be the second leg of the “Swarnim Gujarat Rath Yatra.” The first leg launched from Amreli, on May 1 last was completed after covering all the 229 urban centres in the State.

Mr. Vyas said that during the “rath yatra” the people would be expected to take at least one “resolve” to contribute for the betterment of the State. Mr. Vaghela said the State government had allocated a budget of Rs. 50 crore for the ‘Golden Gujarat’ celebrations while each of the “raths” including their conversions and running expenses would cost Rs. 2.60 lakh.