NEW DELHI: BJP chief Amit Shah’s ambitious target of winning 150+ seats of 182 in the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections is keeping his political rivals guessing. However, the saffron strategists are counting on their steps for reaching drinking water to the parched Saurashtra and Kutch regions, besides pro-poor measures, to give the party the pole vault to reach an almost impossible goal.
They claim that the state government’s success in the expansion of coverage of drinking water alone will make the saffron outfit not just unbeatable, but will shut out the Congress in the upcoming polls.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani exudes confidence about prospects of the party in the polls. His confidence apparently lies on the majestic Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), with its dams full of Narmada waters.
The CM said that half the population of the state now has access to safe drinking water.
“Only 26.6 per cent of the rural areas had tap water supply in 2000, which now stands at 73 per cent. Besides, 195 towns in 2017 got access to safe drinking water against just 26 in 2000. Furthermore, 12,132 villages are now part of the village water scheme against just 1,910 in 2000,” noted a senior SSP official. Rupani said that the expansion of drinking water and irrigation facilities covered the Saurashtra and Kutch regions.
The BJP strategists have sought to corner the Congress on the grounds that the UPA government had wanted to derail the expansion of water coverage by not allowing an increase in the height of the main dam.
“The Congress has carried a negative mindset against the interests of Gujarat. People are well aware that they remained thirsty for so many years in the Saurashtra and Kutch regions because the Congress obstructed the SSP,” Rupani said.
The BJP now claims to have got a touch of the pro-poor image as well. The Gujarat Shramik Annapurna Yojna has now more than 40 lakh poor registered, who eat full meals in the morning at just `10 per person, and is funded by the Building Construction Cess collected by the state government.
“We are not doing any charity, but providing nutritious meals to the poor at a nominal price. Also, we will ensure that one medical college each is opened in all the backward districts of the state to reach the medical services to the poor tribal,” Rupani claimed.