At a time when the ruling BJP in Gujarat is facing dalit, OBC and Patidar anger, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday assured that his government was for the dalits, the marginalised and the poor.
While speaking after laying foundation stone for various irrigation schemes in Limkheda, the tribal belt of Dahod district on his 67th birthday, Modi said that in his first speech after becoming the prime minister, he had made it clear that his government was for these sections of the society.
If they came in the mainstream then development would scale new heights, he said.
Earlier in the day, Modi sought blessings of his mother Hiraba in Gandhinagar.
Even as Modi made this statement at a massive public rally, activists pointed out that in practice things have been different. They reminded him that upcoming dalit rights activist, Jignesh Mewani, was picked up from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Airport in Ahmedabad.
Patel had arrived from New Delhi one hour before PM's arrival in Ahmedabad. According to sources, police feared that Mewani, who has been demanding five acre land for the dalits, might create trouble.
A few days ago, Patidars had created trouble at a programme attended by BJP national president Amit Shah. The OBCs have been criticising the state government over its inept handling of the case in which several people lost lives in a hooch tragedy in Surat.
Taking a dig at the previous governments, Modi said that there were schemes but poor had no entry in the banks. Similarly, there were insurance policies and hospitals but not for the poor, he said.
Modi said his vision was to double farmers' income by 2022 when the country celebrates 75 years of independence.
The prime minister said experiments were being done on solar pumps and that it would bring in a revolution of sorts. Farmers would no longer have to depend on electricity, he said, adding, "Drip irrigation will also be possible."
Modi also that he had envisaged a makeover for the Parel Railway Yard at Dahod and that it would change the economy of the region.
After mentioning that he had travelled in the region on a scooter in the past, Modi said the tribals of Dahod and, in fact all tribals of the country, had posed a challenge to the Britishers in the freedom struggle of 1857.
The prime minister recalled history by stating that when the state bifurcated, there were apprehensions about its survival due to lack of water, minerals and other resources. People of Gujarat, however, had emerged winners after facing the challenges, he said.
Modi said schemes like changing the existing bulbs with LED blubs might seem small but had greater implications. According to him, 2.50 crore bulbs were changed in Gujarat so far and that would mean a saving of Rs 1,000 crore to the state exchequer, which in turn can be utilised for people oriented schemes.