ANAND (GUJARAT): Prime Minister Narendra Modi had begun his Gujarat campaign by harping on perceived discrimination against India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. In Patel’s village Karamsad, Modi’s lamentations resonate, yet people want Modi to work on Sardar’s ideals and scrap all freebies for MPs, including pensions and free travel, arguing that parliamentarians of today are mostly millionaires.
Karamsad has grown with time, with majority of the villagers having migrated to the US and other countries. Sardar Grih, which is Patel’s ancestral home-turned-museum, wears a deserted look, with just a few workers looking after it. Occasional visitors drop in for a quick look at the museum, which has a number of photographs depicting the story of Sardar executing the amalgamation of princely states into the Indian Union. Photographs of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi visiting the place also adorn the walls, though none of Modi can be seen.
While people are not queuing up at Sardar Grih, they haven’t forgotten Patel’s ideals. Though Modi built up the campaign around Patel in the initial days of electioneering, people aren’t so impressed. “That Sardar was ignored by successive Congress governments at the Centre and not given due recognition is a fact. But Sardar himself was a selfless person,” said Pareshbhai Patel, who retired from a Karamsad college.
At a village roundabout, Patel engages in a discussion about Modi being a good politician. “Why doesn’t Modi scrap pensions and freebies availed by MPs. At a time when mostly millionaires become MPs, should they avail of pensions and free air and train travel? Are they really selfless social workers?” asked Patel seemingly amused at Sardar’s name being used for election purposes.
Nattubhai Patel, while nodding in agreement, remembers former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi scrapping pensions of princes of provinces which were subsumed in the Union of India. “If Indira could do this, then why can’t Modi do it?” asked Patel.
“If common man can give up LPG subsidies, why do these rich parliamentarians take salaries and subsidies and other freebies,” piped up Naveenbhai Patel.