Nitin Patel was addressing a public meeting after launching projects of Rajkot Municipal Corporation, Roads and Building Department and Rajkot district administration, at Atmiya University campus in the city. (File photo)
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, on Friday, targeted the Opposition, especially Congress over protests in the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). He said the party had failed to repeal Article 370 of the Constitution for 70 years, did not enact CAA to grant citizenship to persecuted minorities and still had the “wisdom” to advise Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Patel likened Congress to a student who fails examinations yet likes to give tips to the topper regarding improving ranks.
“I give this example often. Congress is like a student who fails examinations or clears it at three attempts, but yet would like give tips to the topper on how to score more,” said the Deputy CM.
“It couldn’t remove Article 370 for 70 years, nor could it bring CAA to grant citizenship to persecuted religious minorities of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Yet, it is out to advise Prime Minister Narendra Modi as to what he should do. Mara mat pramane, vichalit thavani koi jaroor nathi. Aa prajasattak parve nischay kariye ke ame deshbhakto ne samarthan aapta rahishu nahi ke te loko je Pakistan ne support ape chhe (In my view, there is no reason to get distracted by protests against the CAA. This Republic Day, let’s resolve to continue supporting patriots and not those who are supporting Pakistan),” Patel said.
He was addressing a public meeting after launching projects — worth Rs 128.90 crore — of Rajkot Municipal Corporation, Roads and Building Department and Rajkot district administration, at Atmiya University campus in the city.
On August 5 last year, the NDA government had repealed Article 370 which granted special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It also bifurcated the state into two union territories. The Centre had also abrogated Article 35-A of the Constitution, which gave power to the Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir to decide permanent residents of that state and extend them benefits of government schemes.
In December last year, the NDA government had managed to pass the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, into both the Houses of Parliament and thus amend the citizenship law to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. After the President had signed it, the Bill became CAA. However, citizens and political parties, including Congress are opposing the CAA, saying it is prejudicial to the secular nature of the Indian Constitution, as it seeks to grant citizenship on the basis of one’s religion.
The Deputy CM further alleged that the 35-year-long Congress rule in Gujarat was marked by corruption, which is why it fell upon the BJP government to take up some development projects.
“You got opportunities for 35 years but you did nothing, whereas we have completed 90 per cent of the work... Pahela sarkarni tijori par panjo padto. Tijorima kana hata. Bhrashtachar thato tethi vikasna kam n thata. Jo juni sarkaro a bhrashtachar na karyo hot ane vikas na kamo karya hot to Rajkot-Amdavad highway varsho pahela six-lane bani gayo hot (In old days, a palm would stalk the state exchequer. There were holes in the exchequer. There was corruption and therefore, they would not undertake any development project. If the governments of the past had not indulged in corruption and instead focused on development projects, the Rajkot-Ahmedabad Highway would have been widened into six lanes many years ago),” Patel said.
“Congress asks where we are getting money from to fund these projects. As a matter of fact, we are doing it with taxpayers’ money. Following Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of trusteeship, we are protecting the state exchequer and using taxpayers’ money judiciously to fund development projects ,” Patel added.
Incidentally, palm is the election symbol of Congress.
Work to widen National Highways 8 and 27, which connect Rajkot with Ahmedabad, into six lanes is in progress. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone of the project in October, 2017.
Earlier in the day, addressing a mock parliament of students of Saurashtra University, Patel suggested Congress in Gujarat was being swayed by opinions of the media. “Before the start of every Assembly session, media would give headlines like, ‘Opposition in aggressive mood.’ Therefore, Congress MLAs think that they must protest on the floor of the Assembly, just for sake of it, as, they fear if they don’t protest, news headlines the next day could be ‘Opposition has joined the BJP,” said Patel.