YEH HAI INDIA
PIC OF THE DAY
Gift your parents good health
For a debutante in electoral politics, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has left no stone unturned in his election campaign.
A series of public speeches had left him with a sore throat, but Modi -- popularly known as 'Namo' -- could hardly care less. With the aid of regular doses of homoeopathic medication, he was already meticulously pouring over the next speech at his breakfast table when Prithvi Shah met him.
Excerpts from an interview:
Why did you chose to contest from Rajkot?
I am the fifth Gujarati politician who is fighting an election after becoming chief minister. Most times, CMs select some interior place to get elected, so that booths can be captured with the help of the police. Or by pampering powerful village leaders. But I selected a constituency of literate voters. I want them to vote after they know me, understand me and analyse me.
You are facing two cases for breaching the code of conduct by the Election Commission. Is it not a misuse of your position?
Not at all. My workers, out of sheer enthusiasm, put up too many hoardings. The Election Commission painted them black. I went to Delhi and presented my side. Now they have conceded to my demand and have allowed me to keep some hoardings.
The second case is regarding my decision of banning cow slaughter. I did it out of compassion. If non-violence and compassion are considered violations of the code of conduct, I plead guilty and am ready to bear the punishment.
The BJP has been always unfair to Rajkot. Will you, too, forget Rajkot once you are elected?
It's not so. I am aware of Rajkot's major and minor problems. I know about water scarcity. I have arranged for more water supply. Now Rajkot's residents will get water for 22 days a month instead of four. I am trying my level best to complete the Narmada dam project. I have solved our dispute with Madhya Pradesh.
And why only Rajkot? I want to solve the troubles faced by Gujarat.
Rajkot's engine-manufacturing business is almost redundant due to competition from China, are you aware?
Global recession and global competition have turned the consumer into a king of the market. Not only Rajkot, Gujarat's entire small-scale industry has been affected. We have got a scheme sanctioned from the Centre to re-energise these sick small-scale units.
As soon as the elections were announced there was an upward movement in the price of edible oil, as a result...
(Interrupting) Look, the oil kings of Rajkot grabbed the opportunity. They noticed that it's the marriage season and so they created an artificial boom (in prices). But the moment I came to know I ordered the civil supply ministry to control prices. It was not done keeping an eye on the election. I would say that in spite of an election, I controlled the artificial boom in price.
Your rival Ashwin Mehta enjoys a clean image. Will it not affect you?
(Laughs) Where am I dishonest? I don't have anybody to look after!