Saturday, Dec 07, 2002
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By Our Special Correspondent
Asked about the reasons for his removal after he reeled out a series of "achievements'' by his Government at a media conference here this evening, Mr. Patel did not try to hide his anguish over the decision and cryptically remarked, "it is for the central leadership to reply.''
He also gave a similar answer to another question why Haren Pandya, who was the Minister of State for Home in his Ministry and was credited with "bringing down the crime ratio'', was not even given the party ticket to re-contest the elections. To a question why the BJP suffered ignominious defeat when he was the Chief Minister despite the "achievements'' of his Government, Mr. Patel claimed that the panchayat elections were "influenced'' by the local issues and the contesting candidates. "That is not the true reflection of the State Government's achievements. It can reflect only in the Assembly elections,'' he remarked.
To highlight the performance of the BJP Government in the State, Mr. Patel drew comparison with the neighbouring Congress-ruled State of Rajasthan, which like Gujarat also faced severe droughts. But while there were reports of starvation deaths in Rajasthan, there were none in Gujarat because of the "better handling of the situation by the BJP Government". Despite Rajasthan being a bigger State, only six lakh people were provided jobs in drought-relief schemes. In Gujarat, 26 lakh people were provided employment and in addition foodgrains were also supplied at a subsidised rate to about 33 lakh families living below the poverty line.
He said while the 20-point programme was initiated by the Congress for poverty alleviation, it was Gujarat's BJP Government which claimed the first place for best implementation. Under the Gokul Gram scheme, more than 1.41 lakh constructive works were carried out averaging about eight in each of 18,000 odd villages in the State. "The Congress has not provided any of these facilities in its 35 years of rule in the State,'' he claimed. He also said all these had been achieved without any additional tax levied on the voters.
Castigating the Congress Chief Ministers "who have descended like swarms in the State to campaign for the party in the Assembly elections,'' Mr. Patel asked with what face they had come to Gujarat when most of them had refused to help the State with their police force to quell the communal riots. He said help was sought from all the three neighbouring States but Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh refused to send any and Maharashtra sent only two companies of police against the request for 10 and also withdrew the police within 12 days.
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