Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said 'Urban Naxals' were trying to gain entry into Gujarat by changing their appearance, but the state will destroy them, and also spoke about massive jump in India's ease of doing business ranking and scrapping outdated laws since he assumed office eight years ago.
On the second day of his three-day visit to Gujarat, where Assembly polls are due in the next few months, Modi attended a series of events in Ahmedabad, Jamnagar, Bharuch and Anand.
Modi said, “Urban Naxals are trying to enter the state with new appearances. They have changed their costumes. They are misleading our innocent and energetic youth into following them."
The PM was speaking after laying the foundation stone of the country's first bulk drug park in Gujarat's Bharuch district.
The project will play a key role in ensuring import substitution and make India self-reliant for bulk drugs, which accounted for more than 60 per cent of the total pharmaceutical imports in 2021-22, as per a government release.
‘Urban Naxal’ term is often used by some segments of the political spectrum to describe sympathisers of the Naxalism cause as well as certain social activists.
The PM said "people with Naxal mentality" tried their best to stop the Sardar Sarovar dam project.
"I had to specially tell our adivasi brothers that Naxalism started in (West) Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, some parts of Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra... Naxalism is destroying the lives of our adivasi youth," he said.
Modi said at that time (when he was the chief minister of Gujarat), he had the challenge to not let Naxalism set in.
"I had to save the life of our adivasi brothers and sisters who live in the entire eastern belt (of Gujarat) - from Ambaji to Umargam. I had to work hard to ensure they were not inflicted with a disease like this. And for that, we took up the task of tribal area development," Modi said.
The PM said he could say with satisfaction that the state's tribal people paid heed to his words and trusted him.
"As a result, Naxalism could not enter this way. For this, I thank our adivasi brothers and sisters and express gratitude to them," Modi said.
Modi said his government's efforts have ensured that tribal youth become doctors, engineers and pilots.
Addressing a rally in Anand district, the Prime Minister stated that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel deftly resolved issues related merger of other princely states, but “one person” could not settle the Kashmir issue, in a veiled attack on India's first PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Modi said he was able to resolve the long-pending Kashmir issue as he is walking in the footsteps of India's first home minister Sardar Patel.
“Sardar saheb persuaded all the princely states to merge with India. But another person handled this one issue of Kashmir,” Modi said, without naming India’s first prime minister.
“As I am following the footsteps of Sardar saheb, I have values of the land of Sardar and that was the reason I resolved the problem of Kashmir and paid true tributes to Sardar Patel,” Modi said.
The meeting was organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at Vallabh Vidyanagar in Anand district.
Further targeting the previous Congress governments in Gujarat, Modi said while they constructed dams, no canal network was created to carry water.
"Did they make dams for darshan (show)?" the PM asked, adding that he took up the work and completed it in 20 years.
Speaking at another rally in Jamnagar, Modi said his government scrapped around 2,000 obsolete laws from the British-era that required industrialists to be sent to jail over minor issues and maintained India's ranking in ease of doing business list has improved considerably after he took office in 2014.
He said despite an "upheaval" in some developed economies, India, the world's fifth largest economy, is moving ahead with stability and tenacity.
Modi said under his government, India's position in the World Bank’s annual ranking of countries for their ease of doing business jumped massively - from 142 to 63 in five years.
The PM said he wants to see India figure in a top-50 ranking in the assessment report and mounted a veiled attack on the Congress for continuing with outdated laws.
"The (outdated) laws continued from the time of the British rule, and I (on becoming PM) roped in an entire team (for review of such legislations) because I did want to send businesspersons behind bars (over trivial issues). We scrapped 2,000 such laws. I have to do more, and if traders sitting here know of such a law, let me know," he said.
He said the Indian economy has sustained itself at a time when Britain and the United States are reeling under high inflation rates not seen in 45 and 50 years, respectively. Growth rate has halted and interest rates have gone up (in these countries).
"There is an upheaval in the world economy. Indian economy is the only one which is going ahead with stability and tenacity," he said, adding India, which ranked 10th in 2014 in terms of its economic size in the world, has jumped to 5th position now.
Speaking after inaugurating an educational complex for the poor students in Ahmedabad, the Prime Minister said only those societies that focus on education will succeed.
"I want to emphasise societies that focus on education will succeed. Keeping focusing on ways to make education more accessible to the youth is one of the main ways to success," he said, adding "though our (caste) people are late, we are on the right path".
"I am glad more youngsters are focusing on medicine, engineering and other such streams. At the same time, I want to stress the importance of skill development as well. In the future, if a student does not have a degree but has some skill then it will be enough. If a child does not want to study, we should impart him some skill," Modi said.
At the BJP rally in Anand district, Modi warned party workers against the Congress's "silent" campaigning in Gujarat and said the ruling outfit will have to slightly modify its poll strategy to counter what he termed "conspiracy" of the opposition party.
"I need to warn you because it appears to me that this time the Congress has adopted a new strategy. I have not probed, but that is what appears to me at first glance," he said.
He said in previous Assembly elections, the Congress used to make a lot of noise and boast about "finishing" the BJP, which is ruling the state for more than two decades.
"But we did not fall (got defeated) in 20 years, so they have done something new, which is why we need to remain alert," said Modi, who previously served as Chief Minister of Gujarat for 13 years.