Our schemes don’t differentiate on religious lines: Gujarat CM (IANS Interview)

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Confident about the formation of a BJP government for another term in Gujarat, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said that his government’s schemes don’t differentiate on religious lines and it would not tolerate anyone who tries to flout state policies.

In an interview, Patel said that there is only one Narendra Modi and no one can match his work. “We have to work under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership. It is not possible to work like Narendra Modi. And globally also no one can match the work, which is being done by him. Whatever Modi has done has made us proud,” Patel said.

Patel added that there is no challenge to the BJP from anyone in the year-end assembly polls. “The BJP organisation and government are working together for the people with the organisation taking the government’s work to the people on the ground.

Excerpts:

Q: What are the other issues apart from development on which people will re-elect the BJP government for one more term?

Patel: The BJP government is working with a basic concept keeping the common man in focus so that the benefits of the welfare and development schemes reach the last man in the far-away places of the state. The government has worked to ensure that the maximum benefits of the government reach everyone. We are also checking by going ‘door to door’ with the schemes, which one should be implemented and is beneficial to people. We are also informing them about the various government schemes going door to door.

Q: What are the things you think will be gamechangers in Gujarat?

Patel: We are here (in power) for a long time. Now we have started working on Green energy and zero carbon. Mainly we are focusing on Electric Vehicles (EV)/battery and we have signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Japan worth Rs 10,400 crore and started working on it. We also signed a MoU Rs five lakh crore for green energy and work has been started. We are working on both as it has multiple benefits. It also reduces dependence on petrol and we have started working on green energy from now on and we are hopeful that we will benefit.

Q: The BJP government at the Centre is working with the policy of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, but in Gujarat there is a lot of talk about minority communities. What would you say?

Patel: My style of functioning is different. Our government has only a policy that no one should face problems and our government is doing whatever is required to improve the life of every citizen. And the schemes and policies of Gujarat are for all irrespective of religion. Gujarat has a policy and we would not tolerate anyone breaking the policies of the government.

Q: Why is your government planning to teach the ‘Gita’ in schools?

Patel: It is too early to discuss it. After studying everything we will talk and decide. This question should not be raised now.

Q: In the last election the Congress gave a tough fight to the BJP. How do you see the opposition challenges including the Congress in this year’s election as many new parties are coming, planning to contest the assembly polls?

Patel: Before the assembly polls, the local bodies elections were held. The BJP has won all the ‘Zila Panchayat’ elections. There is no challenge from anyone. The BJP organisation and government are working together for the people.

Q: Has the party set any target on the number of seats to win in this year’s assembly elections?

Patel: What the Gujarat BJP president has said might happen. I am a positive man and never contest elections to defeat someone but contest it to win. I contest elections to win every seat not to defeat someone.

Q: Are there any possibilities that the BJP may field a large number of fresh faces in the assembly polls like in your cabinet?

Patel: In the BJP, even a chief minister is not sure of his ticket and you are asking me about others.

Q: How do you see the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) chances in the Gujarat assembly polls?

Patel: In a democracy everyone has the right to contest elections.

During elections a number of parties can come. But this is not the case with the BJP. The BJP has never been an election oriented party and it works throughout the year. Our workers keep on working throughout the year at every level. The workers themselves keep on working for the people, to solve the issues of the public at their own level.

After I was made the Chief Minister, there was an election in the Municipal Corporation in Gandhinagar. Everyone was saying that the AAP will come to power but the BJP has managed to win 41 out of 44 seats. Earlier the BJP was never in a majority because it used to win about 50 per cent of the seats but this time we have been able to win in a big way and only due to the hard work of the workers.

The BJP is working among the people. Our workers are with the people during Covid. Prime Minister Modi is globally the most popular leader and his rating is rising. The BJP is strongly positioned and the opposition is losing ground.

Q: The AAP is announcing lots of freebies. Your take on the politics of freebies?

Patel: We need to understand that there should be no competition on providing free sops. Even after the Covid pandemic, we have not put any additional tax burden on people. We have given a budget at 1.6 percent fiscal deficit ratio. If the fiscal deficit crosses the three per cent threshold then the central government can reject it. But due to the Covid pandemic the central government has given some relaxation of upto 4.5 per cent. The Rajasthan government has presented the budget with an almost 4.5 per cent fiscal deficit ratio. If someone wants to distribute for free then they can do that, but in Gujarat, financially we have stuck with the Gujarat model.

Q: Once Prime Minister Modi occupied the office that you are now holding. Do you feel any pressure?

Patel: You need to understand that there is only one Narendra Modi. We have to work under his leadership. It is not possible to work like Narendra Modi and globally also no one can match the work done by him. And whatever Modi has done has made us proud. We are also trying to work, but we get nervous or feel challenged sometimes. One can imagine how hard he worked and brought the state on the path of development with his vision.

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