Though assembly elections in Gujarat are scheduled to take place in December, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is already in election mode. And rightly so.
Modi'sfour-and-a-half-year tenure as CM of one of India'smost industrialised states has catapulted Gujarat to new heights. Small wonder then that when Organiser caught up with the hands-on CM recently, he oozed confidence both about his party'strack record and his state?s. As E-day approaches, Modi is ready for a head-on collision with the Opposition, which, despite all efforts to dethrone him, have not been able to dent Modi'simage as an upright and performance-oriented CM. ?During my tenure, my only agenda has been development of Gujarat. This tenure has been given to me by the people of Gujarat for serving them and I have been trying my level best to fulfil that promise,? he asserts.
A shrewd politician, Modi asserts: ?Elections are only a by-product as far as I am concerned, not an agenda.? When asked what the poll plank of the BJP will be during the assembly elections and the party'smain game plan, he prefers to play it safe. ?In the BJP, it is never the CM who takes a decision. It is a collective decision where team BJP decides the overall strategy and I am a part of that larger team.?
Instead, he prefers to focus on the vital parameters of the state'sformidable development record, which he has on his fingertips. He doesn'thave to refer to any notes to tell you that from 1961 when Gujarat came into existence as a state to 2001 when he took over as the CM, in nine five-year plans, which have been implemented by more than a dozen CMs from parties across the political spectrum, the state'stotal plan allocation and utilisation has been Rs 52,000 crore. Compared to that, the state'splan allocation has shot up to a whopping Rs 47,000 crore in a time span of just four years since the implementation of the Tenth five-year plan in 2002. ?In the next five years, this allocation is likely to breach the Rs one lakh crore mark,? he predicts. According to the Gujarat CM, there'sbeen a quantum jump in expenditure on various social sectors, for instance, allocation for the Vanvasi development sector in the forty-one years prior to Modi'srule was Rs 6,500 crore while in the past four years alone, the sum has been Rs 6,200 crore. Similarly, the quantum of investments in various sectors of the state'seconomy up to 2001 are equal to the investments raked in during the past four years, Modi claims.
Even on parameters like total man-days lost on account of strikes, lockouts etc, quantum of rural employment generated, education and even sports, Gujarat has a distinct edge over most other states. Says Modi, ?It is not as if we didn'thave sportspersons earlier but it is just that the selection is fair and transparent now where actually deserving players get a chance to display their talent.? And on the education front, the school drop-out rate in the state has fallen from an alarming 41 per cent at the turn of the century to a miniscule two per cent now. Says the Gujarat CM, ?I envisage the state having at least five Singapores at the five planned SEZs in the state and mega blue-chip companies.? He cites the
example of the state-owned GSPC, which was an insignificant player in the oil and gas arena some years ago. ?Today with a staff strength of a mere 183, GSPC has wealth equivalent to oil behemoth ONGC and a global footprint from Yemen to Australia,? he informs. What are his growth drivers for the state? ?Agriculture, service sector, knowledge industry and industry in that order,? he says unhesitatingly. ?Given the fact that industry is Gujarat'score strength, I want to give impetus to other growth drivers,? he says. It is not surprising that Modi is actually looking forward to going to the hustings. He'sgot the Opposition in a total disarray, thanks to the undisputed development record of the state.