Modi’s first public meeting in Gujarat after becoming prime minister

Prime Minister Narendra Modi releases water from the gates Prime Minister Narendra Modi releases water from the gates, at AJI-3 dam site of the project, in Jamnagar district, Gujarat on Tuesday. Chief Minister of Gujarat Vijay Rupani is also seen | PTI

In his first public meeting in Gujarat after becoming Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on August 30 in a subtle manner hit out at the previous UPA government on various issues while inaugurating a drinking water project worth Rs 12,000 crore for the parched Saurashtra region.

Speaking at a public meeting in Sanosara, Jamnagar, Modi talked about the days when Members of Parliament used to get coupons for LPG connections and some of them allegedly sold it in the black market. "Such were the days that people had to plead before the MPs to get gas connections," he said, adding that of the total number of gas connections given in Uttar Pradesh, 45 lakh were given to dalit families.

The mention of dalits was in order to please the community which has been unhappy with the ruling BJP government in the state following the public flogging of dalit youths earlier in July over skinning of a dead cow. The incident, which happened in Mota Samadhiyala of Una in Saurashtra region, had become the centre of many protests.

Modi's preference for his mother tongue Gujarati enthused the large gathering. He began by asking "kem cho (how are you)?". In Gujarati, he continued to ask if he had changed at all as compared with what he was when he became the Prime Minister.

Modi did not forget to laud the girl child and reminded the gathering how women came out with flying colours at Rio Olympics. Though he spoke of the 'swacch mission', he seemed to have totally forgotten or ignored the strike held by safai workers in Ahmedabad demanding permanent job. This has led to filth and garbage collecting on the roads in several areas.

On a lighter note, Modi said he took time to come to Gujarat after becoming the Prime Minister because when he became the Prime Minister there was a lot to learn. "Now I know everything," he said.

Congress leader Ahmed Patel, however, tweeted that Modi’s visit was a political move and that he had got time to visit Gujarat only after two years and that too after visiting several countries. The Congress also accused the ruling BJP of trying to gain political mileage out of the water works project. The Project—Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation scheme—is aimed at filling up 115 dams of Saurashtra region by laying a pipeline network of over 1,125 kilometer. Initiated in 2012, the first phase of the project that is aimed to be completed in five years was inaugurated by Modi. When completed, the project is expected to irrigate 22 lakh acre land.

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