Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed his first public gathering in poll-bound Gujarat after assuming power in May 2014. On Tuesday afternoon he addressed a rally in Sanosara village in Jamnagar district in the patidar dominated Saurashtra region.
Earlier he inaugurated the first phase of an irrigation project in the region – SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avataran for Irrigation) Yojana.
In his speech at the rally, PM Modi reached out to the farmers of Gujarat. He spoke about the importance of availability of water for a farmer.
He stressed on conserving water and remembered his days as Gujarat Chief Minister when people did not understood his vision to bring transformation in the agricultural sector.
“After I became Gujarat’s CM for the first time (in 2001), I used to tell farmers that instead of fighting against government to get more electricity for irrigation, they should focus more on water management. However, I failed to make them understand for almost 2-3 years” said Modi.
He also spoke about how Gujarat’s water level had improved over the years.
“…At that time, I faced lot of protests by farmers. They used to burn my effigies. But, I remained firm on my vision. Today, I want to thank farmers of Gujarat for accepting my vision of conserving water through sprinklers, drip irrigation and micro irrigation tools, which significantly brought up ground water levels,” Modi added.
He also spoke about how the once parched Kutch region now has abundant Narmada water.
“Narmada waters have reached till Khavda in Kutch. There was a time when camels were used to transport water toour BSF jawans posted there. They used to get small quantity of water for drinking. But now, they use Narmada water for even bathing,” said Modi.
“We worked on the motto of Jai Jawan and Jai Kisan. Water from Narmada has transformed the lives of farmers too. This season, farmers of Kutch exported 70,000 tonnes of Kesar mangoes” added the Prime Minister.
Modi also launched a veiled attack on the Congress, who had questioned the timing of his visit to poll-bound Gujarat.
“You can win polls by throwing pieces, but you cannot run a country by doing so. We do not believe in throwing pieces. We worked hard for almost 15 years for this project to bring transformation and development,” Modi told the crowds.
The Congress has called the inauguration of Sauni scheme at this as an attempt by the Prime Minister to give a message to voters ahead of the polls.
Water has always been is a politically sensitive issue in Gujarat and the BJP plans to cash in on it ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls to revive its fortunes, especially at the time when it is facing challenges like Patel quota agitation and Dalit uprising.
(With inputs from PTI)