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Published On: Sat, Oct 7th, 2017

PM Narendra Modi Takes A Swipe At Critics of Bullet Train…in Gujarat he says economic progress for Congress meant installing a hand pump

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pm-modi-gandhinagar-650_650x400_61507379687AHMEDABAD : Under attack over the Gujarat model of development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday took a swipe at the Congress over economic progress under its governments, saying for them it meant installing a hand pump and asking for votes in return. Modi, who is on a two-day visit to his poll-bound home state for launching and inaugurating a slew of projects, said there is no substitute for development.
“The definition of development has changed. Earlier, leaders used to install a hand pump and ask for vote in its name for three elections,” Modi said without naming the Congress. The prime minister was addressing a gathering after laying the foundation stone for a greenfield airport at Hirasar near temple town of Chotila in Surendranagar district.
Back in Gujarat where he had laid the foundation stone for the bullet train last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday took a quick swipe at the many critics of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed train being built. Speaking at a function to formally dedicate the IIT Gandhinagar building to the nation, PM Modi recalled that he had, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, allotted 400 acres in the state capital for its campus in 2011.
Had this decision to allot land been announced during elections, “some people would have gone all out to criticise me… the way they criticise bullet trains these days”, PM Modi said, suggesting that much of the criticism that he had faced over the high-speed train was linked the Gujarat elections scheduled for last this year.
“They would have said Modi, a primary school building in Gujarat is in a bad shape and you are spending money on building an IIT. They would have definitely criticised. But it was good there were no elections around then,” he said, calling his decision to allot land for the IIT campus a visionary decision.

“There is no substitute for development. Everybody, even a very poor person, wants development. If you ask any poor person if he wants a house, he would say yes. You cannot give houses to the poor without development,” Modi said. He was apparently alluding to the campaign mounted by the Congress and other opposition parties, especially on social media, rubbishing the Gujarat model of developmnent under the BJP rule.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had recently castigated the Modi government over the Gujarat model of development, saying “vikas (development) has gone mad”, during his recent three-day campaign visit to the state. “Did you ever think that Chotila would have an airport? Did people of Surendranagar ever think that an airport will be built here?” Modi asked the gathering.

“Should an airport be built here, will you people like it? Once airport is built, planes will fly from here. Is it not development?” Modi asked, and the crowd responded with a resounding “yes” . The state unit of the BJP has decided to take on the Congress’ aggressive ‘development has gone mad’ campaign with its slogan of ‘I am development’.
Apart from launching the airport project, Modi also laid the foundation stone for six-lanes of 201 kilometre Ahmedabad-Rajkot section of National Highway 47. The project will cost Rs 2,893 crore.He also dedicated a fully automatic milk processing and packaging plant and a drinking water pipeline for Joravarnagar and Ratanpur area of Surendranagar.
Modi’s jibe was aimed at the opposition. The Congress had been loudest critic of the bullet train when PM Modi, stood next to Japanese PM Shinzo Abe last month, to lay the foundation stone for the ambitious Rs. 1.10 lakh crore project. “This is nothing but an ‘electoral (chunavi) bullet train’,” Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had told reporters.

The stampede at Mumbai’s Elphinstone railway station that killed 23 people on 29 September had put the spotlight back on the big-ticket project. The Congress had renewed its attack, calling it an example of the government’s “misplaced priorities”. The BJP’s ally Shiv Sena had also taunted the government for being able to find crores of rupees for the bullet train to be used by the rich but couldn’t fix a decades-old bridge that was to be used by poor people.

Soon enough, Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackrey also weighed in, warning that he would not allow “a single brick” to be placed for the bullet train in Mumbai until the infrastructure of local railways was made better. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had also questioned the wisdom of the high-speed train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, calling it “impractical”. ( With Agency Inputs )>


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