Sunday, Oct 20, 2002
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By Manas Dasgupta
Apparently realising that mere rhetoric against the Congress or Pakistan may not secure votes for his party, his address incorporated the steps taken by his Government for the welfare of the tribals and assured them of more steps to solve their water and power shortage problems if voted back to power.
Among the steps he announced was setting up of an `Ekalavya Academy' here for training the tribal youths in athletics and other sporting events. He said the tribals were endowed with good physique and stamina, but could not shine as athletes and sportsmen for lack of opportunities and training.
The sixth leg of the yatra, which for the first time was not flagged off by a national BJP leader or Central Minister, however, received a much better response than his fifth leg at Porbandar. The sixth leg would mostly move through the tribal-dominated areas in Sabarkantha, Panchamahals, Dahod, Vadodara, Anand and Kaira districts covering 22 Assembly segments in the next three days.
Mr. Modi blamed the Congress for the water and power shortage faced by the State and said the total lack of perspective planning by the Congress Governments in the last 45 years had caused these problems. Claiming credit for bringing the Narmada water to the Sabarmati river, he again blamed the Congress for the delay in the implementation of the Narmada dam project.
Pointing out that the Congress Governments in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan were not cooperating in the rehabilitation of the affected dam, which was delaying the implementation of the Narmada project, Mr. Modi castigated the Congress leaders for their current visit to the United states.
``They would have done better if they had visited the neighbouring States and asked their party Governments to cooperate in the implementation of the Narmada project instead of wasting their time in the U.S.,'' he said.
Describing the Congress as "stooges of Pakistan,'' Mr. Modi said Pakistan wanted to see the BJP unseated in Gujarat so that "it could implement its anti-Hindu agenda in the border State".
"It is for the people to stand guard against such evil designs of Pakistan,'' he added. Mr. Modi also had a dig at the media saying that his rath yatra was criticised if it did not get a good response, but no one bothered about the Congress yatras which were not attracting even a few people. "But it does not matter to me, the five crore people of Gujarat are with us,'' he claimed.
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