Limkheda, Gujarat: Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated his 66th birthday amid tribals here on Saturday, stating that his government was committed to empower the “last man in the queue”, besides inaugurating drinking water and irrigation projects in the parched region of his poll-bound home state of Gujarat.
On his third visit within two months to west Indian state of Gujarat, where Assembly polls are due next year, Modi recalled the contribution of tribals in the country’s freedom struggle, and promised them adequate water for drinking and irrigation.
Modi inaugurated Rs48.17 billion (Dh2.64 billion) worth of irrigation and drinking water projects of the Gujarat government, seeking to cater to this parched region of Dahod district.
“Due to scarcity of water, my tribal brothers had to migrate and toil hard as construction labourers in extreme heat in the past. At that time, the Gujarat government (under his leadership before 2014), gave priority to water and allocated highest budget for water related projects,” the Prime Minister said.
Before becoming the PM in 2014, Modi had served as the Gujarat Chief Minister for 13 years.
“Today, we are inaugurating several projects for providing drinking and irrigation water at a cost of thousands of crores of rupees. We took up this task of empowering the last man on the line, so that he can also uplift the lives of others,” Modi said.
He thanked the tribals for “raising” him and promised to do everything possible to uplift their lives through various schemes.
“MPs of NDA selected a person, who is the son of this soil (Gujarat), as the Prime Minister. It was you who raised me. My government is committed to the welfare of the downtrodden citizens,” Modi said.
The PM also recalled his earlier days when he used to roam in this district on his scooter.
The BJP leader also slammed past governments at the Centre on the issue of development
“At that time, there was nothing here. In the past, schemes used to remain on paper only, as nothing happened on ground. That is why my government took up the task of setting up a railway yard at Dahod. I firmly believe that it will bring lots of employment opportunities here and give a boost to the local economy,” said Modi.
He also praised farmers of the district for showing “progressive” mindset.
“Farmers of Dahod have turned to flower cultivation. They are adopting innovative techniques. Farmers having just one of two ‘bigha’ land are also keen to learn new things by visiting other places. My government is also working to double the income of all the farmers by 2022,” said Modi, who later left for Navsari to address another rally.
Praising the tribals for their role in the freedom struggle, Modi said, “Whenever we talk about the 1857 mutiny, we have to start the discussion from this tribal district of Dahod. The history of India’s freedom struggle is incomplete without the mention of tribals’ contribution, who fought against Britishers for over 100 years.”
“In 1857, tribals of this district posed great challenge to Britishers. How can we forget the contribution of our own freedom fighters from this land of Govind Guru? He fought bravely against the British. On this occasion, I want to pay my tributes to all the tribal freedom fighters of this country from this land,” he said.
Modi said the Centre was keen to implement Gujarat’s ‘Van Bandhu’ scheme, for upliftment of tribal population across the country.
‘Van Bandhu’ scheme is a special scheme of the Gujarat government for development activities of tribal region of the state.