Gujarat Assembly elections | Don’t waste your vote on Congress, says PM Modi

In Amreli, a district where the BJP drew a blank in the previous Assembly polls in 2017, Prime Minister says, ‘ask any Congress leader what’s the roadmap for development and they don’t have any plan’

Updated - November 21, 2022 01:21 am IST

Published - November 20, 2022 03:13 pm IST - DHORAJI (GUJARAT)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a public meeting ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections, at Veraval in Gir Somnath district on November 20, 2022.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a public meeting ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections, at Veraval in Gir Somnath district on November 20, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asked voters in Gujarat to not “waste their vote on the Congress” as the party lacked any roadmap for the development of the State. Intead, choose the BJP to continue the State’s development journey, he said. 

Mr. Modi addressed four election rallies in the Saurashtra region on Sunday, the second day of his election campaign. He first offered prayers at the famous Somnath temple, where he is also the chairman of the temple board. 

Read | How are political parties placed a month before the Gujarat Assembly elections?

“You cannot expect a Congress leader to take you on the path of development. Ask any Congress leader what’s the roadmap for development and they don’t have any plan,” he said in an election rally in Amreli, a district where the BJP drew a blank in the previous Assembly polls in 2017. 

He said the people of Amreli had elected Congress candidates in the previous elections with “very high hopes” from that party. “Now tell me, what did they do for you during these five years? Do you remember at least one work done by them? Then why are you wasting your votes on them? To strengthen Amreli, I urge you to choose lotus, the BJP’s election symbol, this time,” Mr. Modi said. 

He addressed rallies in Veraval, Amreli, Dhoraji and Botad in Saurashtra, which go for polling in the first phase of the elections on December 1. 

The Prime Minister talked about various welfare schemes the BJP government in the State and the Centre had launched, including annual cash transfers to farmers and other weaker sections of the electorate. 

In Botad, he told the gathering that the BJP was the only party that had forced other political parties to talk about development instead of caste-based vote bank politics.

“Earlier, allegations about scams used to be the main issue during elections. But after BJP’s rise in Gujarat, the main issue has become development instead of scams. We compelled all other political parties in the country to talk about development during polls,” he said.

In Dhoraji, the PM flagged the presence of social activist and leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Medha Patkar, in the Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra in Maharashtra. 

“Why are such people, who opposed the Narmada project and wanted to deprive the people of Saurashtra from getting Narmada water, are given place in the Yatra?” he asked, without mentioning either Ms. Patkar or Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is leading Bharat Jodo Yatra to “unite the people of the country”. 

“The Narmada project is the only project to quench the thirst of the arid region of Kutch and Saurashtra. You must have seen yesterday how a Congress leader was doing padayatra (journey on foot) with a woman who was an anti-Narmada activist. She and others stalled the project for three decades by creating legal hurdles,” he said. He also talked about various measures the Gujarat Government had taken to provide water in the parched Saurashtra region. 

The Prime Minister has been spearheading the BJP’s poll campaigns, and since March this year, he has held nearly 30 rallies and roadshows across the country. 

Amit Shah in Dediapada

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday accused the Congress of exploiting tribal communities for votes, and said it was only after Mr. Modi had become the Prime Minister that the country had been able to have its first tribal President in Droupadi Murmu.

Mr. Shah also alleged that poverty had increased under the Congress rule even as the party had given a call for eliminating it.

Read | Gujarat Assembly polls: BJP campaigners use Mehrauli murder and Medha Patkar to target Congress

“Congress only delivered speeches. It gave the slogan of eliminating poverty but instead worked to eliminate the poor. It exploited tribals by garnering their votes. Despite 70 years of Independence, not a single tribal brother or sister became the President of the country,” Mr. Shah said, addressing a poll rally at Dediapada in the tribal-dominated Narmada district.

“It was after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister that he worked to make Droupadi Murmu, the daughter of a tribal, poor family from Santhal Pargana of Odisha, the country’s President,” he said.

Mr. Shah said Mr. Modi had worked towards ending the division between the rich and the poor.

“When Modi became the Prime Minister, his first speech was that his government will be for the tribals, Dalits, poor and OBCs (Other Backward Classes). He did what he said. In eight years, Modi reserved a large portion of the budget for 80 crore poor people of the country,” Mr. Shah said.

He said there wasn’t a single village in the country that is now without access to electricity.

Mr. Shah also took a swipe at the Gujarat Congress’ election campaign, highlighting that party’s achievements when it was in power three decades ago, and said the Opposition party had not done anything other than “increasing poverty”. “Congress says ‘kaam bole chhe’ (it is work that speaks). It has not been in power since the last 32 years. When the people of Gujarat did not vote it to power for 32 years, it says its work speaks for it. You [the Congress] did nothing other than increasing poverty,” he said.

Mr. Shah said that in its last Budget, the then Congress government had allocated ₹1,000 crore for tribals in Gujarat while Bhupendra Patel, the current BJP Chief Minister, had allocated ₹1 lakh crore for the community in his previous Budget.

“Congress does not know what tribal development means...It did nothing other than make each other fight. After BJP came to power, not a single curfew was imposed at in any police station in the last 20 years,” Mr. Shah said.

Kejriwal roadshow

A group of people shouted slogans in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s roadshow on Sunday in Gujarat, where Assembly elections will be held next month. The incident took place at Halol in Panchmahals district in the evening, when the AAP’s national convener was addressing a gathering during the roadshow.

Responding to this, Mr. Kejriwal said they could shout slogans in support of whoever they wanted, but he would build schools for their children and provide free electricity.

Addressing the gathering during a roadshow, Mr. Kejriwal said, “Some friends are shouting ‘Modi, Modi’. I would like to tell them that you may shout slogans in support of whoever you want, but it’s Kejriwal who will make schools for your children. However much you shout slogans, it’s Kejriwal who will offer free electricity to you.”

“We have no enmity with anyone. You may shout slogans in support of whoever you want. One day, we will win your heart and bring your to our party,” he said.

A large number of youths in the State were unemployed, he said while reiterating his party’s “guarantees” of jobs and ₹3,000 as unemployment allowance to job aspirants.

“There is no party that talks about schools. Did any party promise to build schools and hospitals, and provide jobs and free electricity? It is only our party which talks about these issues,” he claimed.

Mr. Kejriwal said that people may support the BJP if they believed in hooliganism and liked to hurl abuses. “If you want to get schools constructed, come to me. I am an engineer. If you need electricity, hospitals or roads, then come to me. Else go to them for hooliganism,” he said.

“I am here to ask for five years. You gave them 27 years, give me five years. If I do not deliver, I will never come to you again,” he added.

The AAP is contesting all 182 seats in Gujarat for the first time in next month’s elections. The party has positioned itself as the main rival to the ruling BJP and Mr. Kejriwal has been campaigning aggressively for his candidates.

In Gujarat, the Assembly polls will be held in two phases — on December 1 and 5, with the counting of votes on December 8, along with the counting of votes in Himachal Pradesh following Assembly elections in that State.

Of the total 182 Assembly seats in Gujarat, voting for 89 seats will be held on December 1, and voting for the remaining 93 seats in north and central Gujarat will be held on December 5.

(With inputs from PTI)

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