Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday said it was for the first time during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee tenure that the government began proactively thinking and implementing basic social welfare schemes like those of potable water, health, education and roads, missing since Independence.
The Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways made the remark while laying the foundation stone for a 47-km stretch of national highway project worth Rs 753 crore and dedicating to people four other projects in Amethi on the 96th birth anniversary of late Prime Minister Vajpayee.
In a subtle dig at the Congress and Samajwadi Party, Gadkari said the BJP is not a pariwarwadi (dynastic) party but a party of its workers and attributed his rise to the post of a Union minister to the fact that the BJP belongs to its workers. That is why, he said, I was able to occupy a chair by the side of late Prime Minister Vajpayee despite not having any MLA mother or MP father and despite being an ordinary party worker, doing the job of painting party posters on walls and campaigning for party on loudspeakers on rickshaws.
Gadkari whom Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya described as harbinger of road revolution in the country and whom his Cabinet colleague and Amethi MP Smriti Irani described as the leader of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, also talked of how Vajpayee roped him into his village road-building programme. Gadkari recalled that it was Vajpayee who, after seeing his road building work in Maharashtra, asked him to prepare a report to link country’s villages with roads.
”I subsequently prepared a project report on the subject and Vajpayee began its implementation,” he said. It is because of Vajapyee’s vision that out of 6.5 lakh villages of India, over five lakhs of them have been connected to the nearest towns and cities today, said Gadkari.
Alleging a dismal situation in the education and health sector during the pre-Vajpayee era, Gadkari said in the field of education, either buildings or teachers or students remained missing and even when all three were there, the ”education itself stayed missing”. Similarly, in the health sector, either hospital or doctors and nurses or medicines used to missing, and even when all three were there, people lacked trust in them and did not go for treatment, said Gadkari.
Addressing the rally, Irani recalled that in 2014, when Gadkari had first visited Amethi, people here had fervently pleaded to him that now that there was Narendra Modi government in the Centre, it must fulfil their 30-year-old demand of a bypass road for the city. And Gadkari had promised them that he would visit Amethi again only with this gift, said Irani, adding it is not a chance that Gadkari has come here again only to gift the people here the bypass road as a stretch of the national highway.
Talking of her work as Amethi MP, Irani said she was revealing it for the first time that she has been able to implement various developmental projects worth Rs 83,000 crore in Amethi during her short tenure as its MP. Talking of a recent visit of Congress leaders Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi to Amethi, Irani said the brother-sister duo had come here saying that they will stay here for two days but returned in two and half hours only.
And during their visit, unable to have people accompany them and welcome them here, they had brought people from Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and neighbouring Sant Kabir Nagar and these outsiders went to the extent of misbehaving with local people here, she alleged. Referring to Priyanka Gandhi poll slogan of Ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon, Irani lamented that it was an irony that women and girls of Amethi never got private toilets during the 70-year regime of the Congress and they got this basic civic amenity under the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi only.
She also attacked Rahul Gandhi, saying it is his audacity that he does not mind insulting people taking a dip in the Ganga — a reference to PM Modi’s bath in the river in Varanasi — and get the courage to ask the meaning of Hindutva from those who have Lord Ram living in their hearts and minds. UP’s Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya on this occasion said there is no difference among SP, BSP and Congress. They are sides of the same coin. Maurya claimed that SP, BSP and Congress do politics in the name of caste and religion and said that as elections come near, they become Hindus.