The BJP’s 27-year-long reign in Gujarat and eight years after Narendra Modi shifted to Delhi as prime minister after helming the state as chief minister for 13 years, the Modi factor remains invincible in the PM’s home state even in the present elections.
As the state votes in Phase 1 on Thursday, News18 spoke to senior BJP and government functionaries to understand the five pillars of Modi’s ‘Gujarat model’ that keep him popular in the state till date, making him the BJP’s biggest vote-catcher. These long-standing benefits to people are Narmada water reaching people in villages, peace and security for two decades, the education infrastructure leading to a high literacy rate, support for dairy sector, and a high-quality tourism circuit.
Travel across Gujarat and one hears more and more about these issues that continue to drive in votes for the BJP based on the face of Narendra Modi. So will these factors do the trick in 2022 too? News18 decodes:
It was Modi who started the SAUNI Yojana as chief minister to solve Gujarat’s perennial problem of water scarcity and droughts, especially in the regions of Saurashtra and Kutch. Under the scheme, 1,370-km of water pipelines in the Saurashtra region have been completed and work on a 1,150-km-long pipeline is under progress. This led to the Narmada water reaching every nook and corner of Saurashtra and Kutch, helping irrigate over one million acres of land. Since 2014, Over Rs 10,000 crore has been allocated for the scheme in the Gujarat budget, changing for good the distressing scenario of women walking miles just to fill a pot of water in Saurashtra or Kutch.
The Narmada canal is now a chain of branch canals, sub canals and distributaries — all measuring up to a length of 71,748 km in 17 districts in total. Modi as prime minister has also remained invested in this project as he recently inaugurated the Kutch Branch Canal in Gujarat that connects the last mile of Western Gujarat with the Narmada River waters, more than 750 km away in Central Gujarat. Further, the Sardar Sarovar Dam provides irrigation facilities in more than 3,000 villages, covering 18.45 lakh ha of land across 73 talukas in 15 districts of Gujarat. Drinking water has reached more than four crore people in Gujarat.
Further, the ‘Nal Se Jal Yojana’ launched by the prime minister in 2019 has been completed in Gujarat with a tap connection with drinking water reaching all the houses in the state at present.
Gujarat’s literacy rate stood at 82.5 per cent in 2021, up from 69 per cent in 2001 when Modi took over as the state’s chief minister. The reason behind this is the network of nearly 55,000 schools in the state and an increase in the number of children enrolled in secondary and higher secondary over the last decades in Gujarat, reflecting that students enrolled are staying in school. The figures shared with News18 show while about 17 lakh students were enrolled in secondary and higher secondary classes in Gujarat in 2001, the number has risen to 29 lakh in 2021. There has also been a drastic decrease in dropout rates.
The figures show that the dropout rate in Gujarat schools in 2001 stood at 25 per cent in primary, 52 per cent in upper primary and 70 per cent in secondary. This has dropped in 2021 to just 1 per cent in primary, 4.5 per cent in upper primary and 23 per cent in secondary, painting a clear picture of a graph which will eventually translate into improvement in standard and quality of life, officials say. “Schemes targeting and incentivising education of girl children has gone a long way to improve the situation,” officials said.
The BJP is also citing how the number of universities in Gujarat has increased from 21 in 2002 to 103 in 2022 and colleges from 775 to 3,117 in the same period. Schemes started by Modi like Vidyalakshmi bond scheme, Kanya Kelavani Rath Yatra scheme, Anna Triveni Scheme and the latest Vahli Dikri Yojana and Mukhyamantri Yuva Swavalamban Yojana have helped the cause of education in the state, BJP says. Gujarat has also become the first state to implement the New Education Policy.
Peace and Security
No riots, stable law and order situation and a terrorism-free environment is another theme on which people seem to back the BJP in Gujarat, making the party defeat any anti-incumbency during the elections. PM Modi has harped on this issue in his present campaign, stressing how the youth in the state had not seen any riots in the last 20 years and must be kept away from the spectre of terror. In big hoardings across the state, BJP is stressing on the ‘suraksha and shanti (peace and security)’ theme to impress the voters again. Modi, in his speeches, has referred to the earlier bomb blasts in Ahmedabad and Surat to cite how the UPA government at the Centre did not cooperate with him then and claimed Congress has been soft on terror.
Gujarat accounts for 1/5th of India’s total milk production and Modi as CM focussed the most on the growth of the animal husbandry sector in the state by creating the concept of a “cooperative model village” and propagating the same throughout the nation as an inspiration for enhanced and better production of milk and milk products. The sector employs 35 lakh milk producers directly and another 10 lakh workers indirectly in Gujarat. The 2020-21 turnover was Rs 39,000 crore, which is projected to be Rs 46,000 crore in the coming years.
Gujarat’s dairy cooperative network is much-hailed with no middle man in the whole process. More than 70 per cent of the money received from the customers goes directly into the pockets of the farmers, most of whom are women. The largest dairy co-operative in India, Amul, is based in Gujarat’s Anand. The ‘Banni’ breed of buffaloes in Kutch have been a success story due to their higher yield and climate-resistance abilities, with Modi talking about the breed during his visit to Kutch region of Gujarat on December 15, 2020.
Of the 35 lakh milk producers in Gujarat, 36 per cent — around 12.5 lakh — farmers are women, another major reason why BJP gets a lot of women votes in Gujarat. Modi as PM has also been emphasising on universal vaccination of animals to solve a major problem of the dairy sector. The Gujarat Mukhyamantri Gau Poshan Yojana has been a hit with dairy farmers. The infrastructure set up by Modi during his tenure as chief minister for the dairy sector still resonates in rural areas among voters.
Gujarat is now considered one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, much of it owing to Modi’s vision and direction in making the state a hot spot — from Rann of Kutch to the crowd-puller ‘Statue of Unity’ at Kevadia, the temple circuit of Dwarka-Somnath-Ambaji and the world’s largest Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium in the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave. The ‘Rann Utsav’ that Modi started in 2006 has grown into a 100-day celebration in Dhordo and hosts 4-5 lakh tourists from India and abroad every year.
The Indo-Pakistan border viewing point in Nadabet has been developed as the ‘Wagah of Gujarat’ with an aim to boost border tourism. It was inaugurated by Home Minister Amit Shah in April 2022. Further, the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave being constructed at Motera, Ahmedabad, across 93 lakh square feet will form the foundation for the state to launch the Gujarat Olympics Mission and create a world-class sports infrastructure with an aim to host the Olympic Games in 2036.
The entire project is expected to cost Rs 4,600 crore. The Sports Enclave will include an indoor sports arena, aquatics centre, Velodrome, athletics village among others and in the future, the Ahmedabad Bus Rapid Transit System and Ahmedabad Metro will also be extended to the sports enclaves so that transportation to and from the area becomes easier.
Read all the Latest Politics News here