Modi lauds Patel's vision, says J&K decision inspired by him

KEVADIYA, Gujarat: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday lauded the vision of Sardar Patel, adding the BJP-led government’s decision last month on Jammu and Kashmir was “an inspiration” from India’s former home minister. The Union government’s decision on Kashmir is inspired by Sardar Patel and is an attempt to find solution to a decades-old problem, Modi, who turned 69 Tuesday, said at a public rally here.

“The country has taken an important decision with the inspiration of Sardar Patel, to walk a new path to resolve a decades-old problem,” Modi said.

The government on August 5 abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and proposed that the state be bifurcated into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Modi said the people of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Ladakh, faced “discrimination for 70 years” due to these provisions. The PM said his government is committed to unity and progress of the country and exuded confidence the proposed union territories will be able to walk on the path of development with cooperation of their people.

“The entire country endured ill effects (of Article 370) in the form of violence, separatism and unfulfilled aspirations and expectations. “Inspired by Sardar Patel, our country took an important decision, Modi said at the rally.

“We have decided to walk on a new path to get rid of this decades-old problem. And I am confident lakhs of people of Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh and Kargil would successfully walk on that path of development and trust,” said Modi.

The PM, who described himself as a `sevak’ (one who serves), also talked about the first 100 days of his second term in office. “Let me assure you that this sevak of yours is fully committed to maintain India’s unity and supremacy, Modi said.

“We have strengthened our commitment during the last 100 days by taking several important decisions, be it for the welfare of farmers or steps to strengthen our economy and infrastructure,” the PM said. “Today you can witness the achievement of decades-old dream of Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat, (One India, Supreme India). The country is working towards completion of work which had remained pending at the time of independence, he said.

The PM said the Hyderabad Liberation Day is a result of Sardar Patel’s vision. September 17 marks the day in 1948 when the erstwhile Hyderabad State was annexed to the Indian Union. In 1947, then home minister Patel requested Osman Ali Khan Asaf Jah VII, the last Nizam of the princely state of Hyderabad, to join India, but he refused. Instead, he declared Hyderabad as an independent nation on August 15, 1947.

Operation Polo was the code name of the Hyderabad “police action” in September 1948 against the then Hyderabad State. It was a military operation in which the Indian armed forces invaded the Nizam-ruled princely state, annexing it into the Indian Union. Modi said he was happy to see the rising number of visitors thronging the Statue of Unity near Kevadiya village in Narmada district.

While the average number of daily visitors to the 133 -year-old Statue of Liberty is 10,000, around 8,500 people visit the 11-month-old Statue of Unity each day, he said.

“Kevadiya and Gujarat are on the world tourism map because of the Statue of Unity. I am told that over 23 lakh tourists from India and across the world have visited this place during the last 11 months. “On an average, around 8,500 persons come here. And, I am informed that the number swelled to 34,000 on Janmashtami (August 24),” said Modi.

“The Statue of Liberty (in the US) attracts on an average 10,000 tourists every day. But, you need to keep in mind that its 133-year-old. On the other hand, the Statue of Unity is just 11-month-old. Despite that, it is attracting over 8,500 tourists every day. This is a miracle,” said Modi.

The Sardar Sarovar project is catering to needs of Gujarat and also adjoining states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, Modi said. Modi thanked “the lakhs of people” who worked to make the Sardar Sarovar project a success and offered them his salutations. Dwelling on the ecological impact of big projects, Modi said, “Our culture believes in development while protecting the environment. Nature is our jewel and is very dear to us.”

The prime minister said the focus now is on ‘per drop more crop’ in agriculture. In 2001, only about 14,000 hectares land was covered under drip and micro-irrigation in Gujarat but now it has increased to 19 lakh hectares, Modi said, highlighting the ‘per drop more crop’ campaign launched while he was the state chief minister. On a visit to his home state, Modi earlier on Tuesday offered prayers to goddess Narmada at the Sardar Sarovar dam. Accompanied by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Modi offered prayers as part of the state government’s ‘Namami Devi Narmada Mahotsav’ celebrations being held to mark the dam receiving water to its full capacity.

Modi also visited the Butterfly Garden in Kevadiya and named the saffron coloured plain tiger butterfly as the state butterfly. He began the day with a visit to the Statue of Unity and the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the river Narmada.  Modi inaugurated the Statue of Unity, billed as the tallest in the world, on Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary on October 31 last year. He also tweeted a video of the statue, taken from his helicopter.

Modi arrived at Kevadiya on Tuesday morning to take part in the ‘Namami Narmada’ festival being celebrated by the Gujarat government to mark the filling up of the dam to its full reservoir level of 138.68 metres.  Modi along with Rupani, performed ‘puja’ at the dam site to ‘welcome’ the water of river Narmada, the lifeline of Gujarat. For the first time since the height of the dam was raised in 2017, the water level reached its highest peak at 138.68 metres on Sunday evening. PTI