Amit Shah sets tone for Gujarat elections, blames Congress for Patidar agitation
Ahmedabad: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah, addressing a town hall in preparation for assembly elections in Gujarat, on Sunday listed the achievements of the BJP state government and blamed the rival Congress party for Patidar agitation.
Asked at the event in Ahmedabad about his party’s stand on the quota stir led by the Patel Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, Shah said that the BJP had told Patidar leaders to follow the legal process to get reservation under the Other Backward Class category, but that they made sure that their demand turned into an agitation.
“If you observe their movement carefully, you will realise that it has become an agitation backed by one political party. Closer to the elections you will see their movement getting more and more politically motivated,” Shah said in an apparent reference to the Congress party.
The BJP, which has been ruling Gujarat for over two decades now, has set itself an ambitious target of winning at least 150 seats in the assembly elections that are likely to be held by December.
“Congress has been asking BJP to give an account of what they have done for the development of Gujarat all these years. We will reply all their questions as we have nothing to hide. But I have few questions for Congress to answer. Why were there more incidents of communal riots in Gujarat in Congress’ rule than in BJP rule? Why has the education system progressed so well in BJP’s rule than Congress’ rule? Who ensured round-the-clock electricity in Gujarat? What about infrastructure growth and what about corruption? In last three years, even opposition parties have not been able to lay a single charge of corruption on BJP- ruled Central government,” Shah said the packed audience that mostly consisted of BJP youth workers and supporters.
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who is the BJP in-charge of Gujarat assembly polls, is scheduled to visit Gujarat and meet senior party leaders to draw out election strategies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit the state twice in September launch the high speed ‘Bullet’ rail between Ahmedabad and Mumbai and dedicate the recently completed Narmada Dam project to the country.
Claiming that the Congress hindered the development of the Narmada project, a lifeline for the people of Gujarat, Shah said that at a time when agricultural growth of 1% is difficult to achieve, Gujarat had achieved and maintained double digit agricultural growth of 10% for 12 years.
“In the time of Congress’ rule in Gujarat the annual budget outlay for the state was Rs10,232 crore in 1995-96. Today, this has risen to Rs1,72,180 crore. Per capita income during Congress’ rule in Gujarat was Rs13, 665 crore which has grown to Rs1,41,504 crore under BJP’s rule. If Rahul Gandhi cannot see development in all these, I fail to understand his definition of development,” Shah said while referring to Congress vice-president’s earlier visit to Gujarat this month where he had criticized the development model of Gujarat under BJP rule.
Responding to a question on the Dalit atrocity at Una last year, Shah said that the state government had taken strict action against the accused. “Gujarat is among those states in India that witness minimum Dalit atrocities,” Shah said. A group of men whipped four Dalits with belts after finding them skinning a dead cow.
Sunday’s event which lasted for about one-and-a-half hours, saw more than 1.75 lakh youth from over 300 locations in the state connect with Shah by video.
On a question on demonetization and its impact on the economy, Shah said the move will lead to curbing of unaccounted income. “Those with misappropriated wealth or whose wealth does not match with their income, cannot escape and will have to pay the required income tax. In Congress’ 65 years of rule, about 3.6 crore people paid income tax. Today, in a span of just three years this number is 6.3 crore, thanks to demonetisation,” he said.