Both the Congress and the BJP are seeking divine intervention for winning Gujarat Assembly elections. After Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s temple run during his state visit last month, it was the turn of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday to seek blessings from Gods before sounding the BJP’s poll bugle.
The Prime Minister, who arrived in Gujarat on Saturday on a two-day visit, offered prayers at the famous Dwarkadhish temple. Government agencies, including the Press Information Bureau, released his pictures on social media on a day when he called for efforts to achieve swaraj through digital literacy and talked about using technology as a tool of empowerment.
Mr Gandhi, during his second visit to the state where elections are slated by the year-end, had begun his campaign from the same temple. The importance of winning Gujarat for the BJP and the Prime Minister is evident from Mr Modi’s plan to address six rallies in two days.
Later in the day, Mr Modi laid the foundation stone for a four-lane cable stayed signature bridge between Okha and Beyt Dwarka and talked about the small trader-friendly decisions taken by the GST Council on Friday evening, ushering in a virtual “early Diwali” for citizens.
“Diwali has come early for our citizens due to the decisions taken in the GST Council. We had said we will study all aspects relating to GST for three months, including the shortcomings. And thus, the decisions were taken with consensus at the GST Council,” Mr Modi said, highlighting the relief offered to small traders and rate cut for 27 items that, he said, had kindled the festive mood of Diwali a fortnight before it is celebrated.
The PM also inaugurated the work for building six-lanes on the Ahmedabad-Rajkot highway at Chotila. Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, who was also present, said, “You can donate eyes, but you cannot donate vision. PM Modi’s vision is going to transform villages, the (lives of) poor and farmers.”
At a rally in Gandhinagar, the Prime Minister talked about technology and maintained that it was the “key to empowerment”.
Mr Modi also shared his “JAM” (Jan Dhan, Aadhar and Mobile) mantra. Stressing on user-friendly technology, the Prime Minister said that there was a need to end the “digital divide” in the country.
Talking about the NDA government’s educational reforms, Mr Modi said that “academics should not be exam-driven: The focus needs to be on innovation”.
Mr Modi spoke of the achievements of the state under the BJP government. “Gujarat is the only place in the world to have a forensic university,” Mr Modi claimed, adding that the nation must be a “pioneer in all fields of research and development”.
Talking about “digital literacy”, the Prime Minister argued that “80 per cent of people do not know how to use an expensive mobile” and claimed that “if there is digital literacy, people will be able to use their expensive phones properly. It will be a value addition”. For the common man, “to attain swaraj, digital literacy is necessary”.
While inaugurating the new campus of IIT-Gandhinagar, he took a dig at the Opposition and said the decision to grant 400 acres of land for it was taken much before the elections.
“If the decision had been taken just before the polls, some people would have said that it was influenced by the forthcoming polls,” he said.
He pointed out that “these are the same people who criticised the bullet train”.
The Prime Minister said, “Innovation can be achieved through two ways: One, applying academic knowledge and creating new things and two, by notice your surroundings, its problems and then thinking if you can provide a solution for it. And then exploring if this can be turned into a sustainable business model.”
Mr Modi claimed that due to the government’s policies the entire world’s “attention is on India. People are coming to invest here”.