Congress Shows 'Sheikh Chilli' Dreams to Tribals, Says Amit Shah in Gujarat
File Photo of BJP President Amit Shah
Bodeli/Devaliya: Seeking to break the Congress' hold on the tribal belt of eastern Gujarat ahead of the state Assembly polls, BJP chief Amit Shah on Wednesday accused Congress of showing 'Sheikh Chilli' (unfulfilled) dreams to the tribals.
Shah, who visited the tribal-dominated Chhota Udaipur district to take part in the state BJP's "vistarak" (expansion) drive, had lunch with a tribal family at Devaliya village as part of his tribal outreach.
The drive is aimed at establishing direct contact with people ahead of the polls, due later this year.
During his interaction with a group of tribal leaders on the campus of the Swami Narayan temple in Bodeli, the BJP national chief hailed the ruling BJP in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for "bringing development to tribals in the last 22 years".
Addressing the gathering, the BJP president said, "Congress has only shown you dreams...Dreams that are not realised are called Sheikh Chilli (a folk tale character) dreams".
He said the Modi government at the Centre has launched as many as 106 programmes in the last three years and has worked for uplift of the poor "in tune with the 'antyodaya' (uplifting the weakest section) philosophy of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay".
"In the last 22 years, the state BJP government has done everything for the tribal population which the Congress never did," Shah said while appealing to the tribal community to help BJP register a bigger victory in upcoming polls.
"People have not defeated BJP since 1995, and we are here to request you to help BJP so that the party could get maximum seats," Shah told the gathering.
Attacking the Congress, he said the party is only interested in paying lip service to Dalits and adivasis.
"Congress only talks about Dalits, tribals and of social inclusion, but what happened during the Congress rule is all for you to see. No power, no water, no road, no health centres. There used to be curfews for months and unemployment was at its peak," he said launching a broadside against the Congress which has a strong following in tribal areas of the state.
Shah said the Modi government in 2001 ensured a 24-hour power supply to the smallest and remotest villages, and also got schools constructed in villages while appointing teachers.
He said health services improved under the BJP government through dial 108 ambulances and public health centres.
"The government's 'Adivasi Vikas Yojana' has taken development to all tribal villages. Water has been made available to the tribal populace. 1.70 crore acres of land has been given to 80,000 tribals in the state and Gram Sabhas have got right over the forest produce," Shah said.
He said the government is committed to preserve the tribal culture and has constructed a tribal museum and a tribal university.
"I will get tired if I have to name all the schemes that the Modi government has launched for the poor after coming to power (at the Centre). Tribals will get benefit of all such programmes," Shah added.
Earlier in the day, Shah addressed a booth-level party workers meeting at Devliya village as part of the 'Vistarak' drive.
The BJP president, accompanied by the Gujarat unit BJP in-charge Bhupendra Yadav and state party leaders, went from door to door seeking votes for the saffron party in the village.
The eastern Gujarat tribal belt, despite serious efforts of BJP, continues to be dominated by the Congress, which won 16 to 17 seats out of the 28 assembly segments in 2012 elections.
As the BJP has set the target of winning 150 seats out of the total 182 seats in Gujarat in upcoming polls, garnering maximum seats in the tribal belt is crucial for the saffron player.
Shah and his team campaigned in Devaliya village under Chhota Udaipur constituency, which has been held by eight-time Congress MLA Mohansinh Rathwa.
In a brief address to the newly-inducted booth-level party workers from Devaliya village, Shah said while Gujarat remains the party's strong fortress, they have to make it further strong and ensure that it continues to remain strong.
"We have decided to take BJP's ideology and strengthen its organisation at village level as part of 'vistarak' (outreach) programme.
"In Gujarat alone, a total 48,000 party workers will go door to door to explain party's programmes, our government's work at central and state level...No party would have undertaken such an exercise. And right here, you can see party workers from booth level right up to the national level," Shah said.
"Our party values organisation and workers, who are the soul of the party. I had been to Lakshwadeep and stayed there for three days, visiting 15 booths where we inducted 40 new members. We are not strong there as we got only 3,200 votes in (2014) Lok Sabha elections," he said.
The BJP chief said he will continue his booth-level programmes in Gujarat in the coming three days, and will visit Sabarkantha for the same purpose.
He praised Modi's leadership as a "matter of pride" for the party and exhorted 225 members from the village to take the message of the party to every person.
"This exercise is more important for Gujarat because we are going to have an election here. We have not lost any election in the state since 1995. When we had Narendra Modi as chief minister, we won 130 seats. Now that Modi is our prime minister, we will win 150 seats," he said.
He later had lunch at the house of tribal family of Popat Rathwa. Rathwa said he has been a BJP worker since over two decades, and exuded confidence that the effort to expand party's presence in two booths in his village will ensure its victory in upcoming state Assembly elections.
"Mostly people vote for Congress here, but this time votes will go to BJP, I am sure about it," Rathwa said.
He said in preparation for Shah's lunch programme at his house, an LPG gas cylinder was given to him a day before.
"Only today we got gas connection, although we had constructed toilet before," he said.
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