SURAT, Oct 15:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said he was given the opportunity to serve as chief minister of Gujarat and then as prime minister of the country even though he had no political or dynastic background, or a caste support.
Modi was speaking after laying the foundation stone virtually for a boys’ hostel on the outskirts of Surat, being constructed by the Saurashtra Patel Seva Samaj, a trust working for the welfare of the Patidar community.
“I was a common man who did not have any political or dynastic background and no support of caste-based politics. Despite that, your blessings gave me the opportunity to serve Gujarat way back in 2001,” he said.
“And, such is the power of your blessings that even after 20 years, I am still serving. First I served the people of Gujarat and now I am serving the country,” the prime minister added.
He urged people to walk on the path shown by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
“Sardar Patel had said that we should not let castes and religious faith become a hindrance for us. We are all sons and daughters of India and we all should love our country. We all should love each other. People of Gujarat always believed in strengthening Sardar Patel’s teachings. `Nation First’ is the motto of Sardar Patel’s children,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister also recalled the contribution of several prominent reformers and educationists from Gujarat, including Chaganbha of north Gujarat and Bhai Kaka of the Charotar region.
He also spoke about Sankalchand Patel, Ganpat Patel, Mohan Lalji Patel and Karshan Virani.
He gave the credit to some of the initiatives started during his tenure as chief minister for improvement on the education front and a dip in the school drop-out ratio among girl students.
“There was a time when Gujarat did not have good quality schools and teachers. With the blessings of Maa Umiya and Maa Khodal (deities of the Patidar community), we included people in the movement and launched initiatives like Praveshotsav and Gunotsav,” Modi said.
As lack of toilets at schools was leading to girls dropping out, these facilities were provided and as a result the number of girls leaving schools midway significantly decreased, he said.
While Mahatma Gandhi had the dream of creating a society which followed the ideals of `Ram Rajya’, people of Gujarat were walking on that path and strengthening those principles, the Prime Minister said. Modi also lauded the new Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, saying though he speaks less, one can not find any flaw in his work.
Patel has been in public life for over 25 years and had started out as a councilor of a municipality, the prime minister noted. He also mentioned that he was addressing the people of the state for the first time after Patel took over as CM in September.
In the first phase of the project undertaken by the Saurashtra Patel Seva Samaj near Valak village, a hostel for 1,000 male students of the Patidar community will be built.
In the second phase, another hostel having the capacity to accommodate 500 girl students will be constructed. Kanji Bhalala, president of the trust, said the boys’ hostel will also have a large auditorium, digital gallery showcasing the history of the Patidar community and its leaders and a library which can be accessed by students of all castes.
There would be a 31-feet statue of Sardar Patel on campus, while a statue of Patel’s daughter Maniben will be installed on the campus of the girls’ hostel.
The boys’ hostel will mostly cater to students who are preparing for professional courses such as Chartered Accountant and competitive exams such as UPSC. While a nominal fee will be charged to boys, the trust will not charge anything to girl students, Bhalala added. (PTI)
SURAT, Oct 15: