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Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his two day visit to poll bound Gujarat on Saturday and inaugurated a series of projects while underlining the Bharatiya Janata Party’s agenda of development that has become a major campaign issue in the PM’s home state.

Speaking at a function in Chotila in Surendranagar district where he laid the foundation for an international greenfield airport, Modi said, “Had Chotila ever thought there will be an airport? Do you believe it is development if an airport comes up in your region? Is this good for your future? Do you like it?"

The Rajkot Green Field Airport as it is called is being built jointly by the Gujarat government and the Airport Authority of India (AAI), according to a state government statement. The cost of the airport project is expected to be around Rs2,500 crore, said a senior state government official who did not wish to be named.

Modi also laid the foundation stone for the six-lane national highway to be built between Ahmedabad-Rajkot, covering a distance of 231.31km. Besides, he also laid foundation for a four-lane state highway connecting Rajkot and Morbi.

Earlier in the day, Modi took a jibe at rival Congress at a function in the temple town of Dwarka where he said that the definition of development amounted to making cheap publicity stunts to win elections. “When Madhavsinh Solankiji (Congress leader) was chief minister of Gujarat, I recall front page advertisements for the CM coming to Jamnagar to inaugurate a water tank. This is how narrow their conception of development was. We have come a long way since then & are looking at more all-round & extensive progress," Modi said after arriving in Dwarka earlier in the day from where he started his visit after offering prayers at the famous Dwarkadhish temple.

Last month, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi began his three-day road trip to Gujarat by offering prayers at the Dwarkadhish temple.

The prime minister also laid the foundation stone for a four-lane Cable Stayed Signature Bridge to be built over the sea at the cost of Rs962.43-crore, connecting Okha and Beyt-Dwarka.

The Gujarat BJP has undertaken a 15-day Gaurav Yatra from 1 October to reach out to the people of Gujarat in 149 constituencies (out of 182) and publicize the development works done by the government. The party has also launched a political campaign under the title ‘Hun Vikas Chu’ (I am development) and released a series of short videos on social media platforms under the same theme.

The BJP’s move came in the backdrop of a recent Congress-backed ‘Vikas Gaando Thayo Che’ (development has gone berserk) campaign—a satire on the BJP’s claims of developing Gujarat that went viral on social media.

The prime minister said that Diwali had come early for the people of the country after the GST Council introduced significant changes to the goods and services tax (GST) on 6 October, slashing tax rates on 27 products and providing relief to small and medium businesses.

“Diwali has come early for our citizens due to the decisions taken in the GST Council. We had said we will study all aspects relating to GST for 3 months, including the shortcomings. And thus, the decisions were taken with consensus at the GST council," PM Modi said. He added that Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who chaired the GST Council meeting in New Delhi on Friday, convinced everyone in the council to introduce changes.

The decision of increasing the limit of composite scheme and the decision of removing the reverse charge mechanism will bring relief to 70% of the businesses in MSME sector, according to Hitendra Joshi, president of Laghu Udyog Bharati—a network of MSME industries of the country.

The prime minister dedicated an automatic milk processing and packaging plant of Sursagar Dairy and daily water-supply scheme for four zones in Surendranagar city.

On Saturday evening, Modi dedicated the newly built Indian Institute of Technology–Gandhinagar to the nation. The campus, built over a plot of 397 acres at Palaj village near Gandhinagar, is the first IIT institute in the state.

“A digital India guarantees transparency, effective service delivery and good governance," Modi said in his speech at IIT-Gandhinagar where he also launched the government run Pradhan Mantri Grameen Digital Saksharata Abhiyan (PMGDISHA). A part of the Digital India initiative, the programme aims to make six crore citizens digitally literate in rural India.

“In this day and age, we cannot afford to have a digital divide. A Digital India guarantees transparency, effective service delivery and good governance," he said. The PM also said that academics should not be only exam driven but the focus should be on innovation.

Modi will begin the second day of his tour from his native place, Vadnagar town. This would be his first visit to the place after becoming the prime minister. He would inaugurate a medical college in Vadnagar and later in the day visit Himmatnagar where he would dedicate a hospital to the nation.

The PM will also launch a massive vaccination drive under Mission Indradhanush, and also distribute tablets to the female health workers. In the last stage of his visit, Modi will arrive at Bharuch, where he would lay foundation stone for the Bhadbhoot Barrage, to be built over Narmada River at the cost of Rs4,337-crore. Modi will also lay foundation stones and inaugurate projects worth Rs600 crore at Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers Co.’ facility in Bharuch before flagging off a new train service between Gujarat and Bihar.

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