Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his third visit to poll-bound Gujarat

On third visit to Gujarat in a month, PM says economic reforms will continue

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his third visit to poll-bound Gujarat this month on Sunday, slammed the Opposition for questioning the Election Commission’s motives in delaying the announcement of the Assembly poll schedule for the State.

“The Opposition parties have no authority to question the Election Commission over announcement of the poll schedule,” Mr. Modi said, addressing a gathering in Vadodara. The crucial polls are due later this year and the term of the Assembly ends on January 22, 2018.

In a veiled dig at Congress leader P. Chidambaram, who had criticised the EC, saying the EC had “authorised” the PM to announce the dates for Assembly polls at a rally in Gujarat, Mr. Modi said, “Someone who won during recounting is targeting the EC now.”

After the Election Commission announced the poll schedule for Himachal Pradesh, breaking the precedent of announcing polls for Gujarat and HP together, it came under sharp attack from Opposition parties. The Commission said it deferred the announcement for Gujarat as the State had sought time to complete rehabilitation work in the flood-hit northern region.

‘Economy on track’

The Prime Minister also defended the Centre’s policies in the context of criticism about an economic slowdown due to introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation.

“After all reforms and hardcore decisions, the economy is on track and is going in the right direction,” Mr. Modi said, asserting that “hard decisions regarding economic reforms will continue.”

Many economists, he said, had agreed unanimously that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. The PM devoted time to cite data and economic indicators to buttress his claim.

During his day-long visit Mr. Modi inaugurated the ₹650 crore ferry service connecting Saurashtra and North Gujarat through the sea route. It runs from Ghogha in Bhavnagar to Dahej in Bharuch. He travelled by ferry from Ghogha to Dahej on its maiden trip. In Ghogha, he said the Centre’s Sagarmala initiative to develop new ports and expand existing ones to create infrastructure would push economic growth.

More than one crore job opportunities would be created in the port sector in the next few years. From Dahej, the Prime Minister flew to Vadodara to lay the foundation for half-a-dozen projects. In Vadodara, Mr. Modi held a road show to connect with the constituency that elected him in 2014. After winning the seat, he resigned it to retain the Varanasi constituency.

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