Thursday, Dec 26, 2002
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By Manas Dasgupta
In his first media conference after the elections here today, Mr. Modi expressed apprehension of more Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attacks in the State and said that along with the border security, internal security would have to be strengthened and modernised to "face the coming challenges".
Assuring the people that his Government would adhere to the "rule of law" following the cardinal principle of "appeasement to none, justice to all", Mr. Modi reiterated that the law would take its own course in the riot-related offences. Considerable progress had been made in some of the cases and all would be taken to the logical end.
He, however, refused to answer a question on his "plans" to allay the apprehensions of the minority communities about the BJP administration following the riots and chided the media for continuing to raise such issues.
"It is my request to the media to bury the past and not to try to create divisions among the communities by harping on the communal divide. The minorities are safe and are living happily with the majority communities even in the villages and no one should try to rub salt into their wounds," he said. The people of Gujarat by nature were peaceloving and valued goodwill, and the Government could not allow man-made obstacles to come in the way of the State's progress.
Flanked by the Chief Secretary, G. Subba Rao, and his Principal Secretary, P.K. Misra, Mr. Modi addressed the media conference. Almost all members of his new Cabinet were present but none of them was on the dais; they were occupying the front chairs in the audience.
Gujarat had the capacity to live up to the Planning Commission's expectations to register a 10 per cent growth rate, two per cent more than the national average, and his Government was committed to achieving the goal by optimum utilisation of human and natural resources.
Among the short-term measures, he said, would be re-prioritisation of the works left incomplete by his previous administration and the long-term measures would include developing the infrastructure base for human development as well as agricultural and industrial progress.
"The agenda would be taking up programmes to ensure economic stability at the macro level by increasing productivity, fiscal discipline, checking unproductive expenditure, tightening revenue collection, taking austerity measures, phased restructuring and disinvestment of the State public sector undertakings."
He said that though most of the State public sector undertakings were making profits, it was his belief that running businesses was not the Government's job and that it should disinvest from even the profit-making ones. Government officials would be encouraged to become "karmayogi" with rewards for the best employees and penalties for the wilful defaulters.
"A clause of responsibility and accountability will be introduced to provide a transparent and clean administration."
Bio-technology, information technology, marine engineering, ocean technology and other modern sciences would be given priority to lay the foundation for a "21st century Gujarat".
The Government proposed to set up a "Buddhisagar Parishad", a think-tank of experts and professionals to advise the Government on various measures.
Besides ensuring the earliest possible implementation of the Narmada dam project and the construction of about 1.5 lakh check dams in the next five years, the Government would lay stress on rainwater-harvesting schemes. All housing projects would be asked to install such systems to avoid wastage of water.
The Government, Mr. Modi said, was committed to ensuring the "five crore Gujaratis" their right to live with dignity and self-respect in a "peaceful, prosperous and powerful State without fear. The Governments will protect the righteous and moral values and deal strictly with those who indulge in economic offences and mafia-like activities."
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