Rasik Patel, a member of the Rajkot zilla parishad, complained that groundnut oil was selling at more than twice the price last year.
Modi, Hindutva’s new pin-up boy in Gujarat’s cities and towns, is a villain in its villages. “Keshubhai Patel (his predecessor) was a khedut neta (farmers’ leader). Modi is a vyapaari ka neta (traders’ leader),” said Patel.
Among the litany of grouses against the chief minister are:
n The boasts on the release of Narmada water in drought-afflicted Saurashtra are “hollow” because Rajkot city is, reportedly, the only beneficiary. “In any case, why should Modi hog the credit for Narmada when the project’s inauguration was done by Jawaharlal Nehru 40 years ago'” asked Upendra Vekaria, the manager of the Jasdan cooperative bank in Rajkot district.
n Erosion in local bodies’ powers. Surendranagar zilla panchayat member Moti Rabari mentioned how a vital sector such as education was affected by the centralisation of power in Gandhinagar. “Earlier, talukas and zilla panchayats used to construct primary schools for Rs 1 lakh each. Now the same thing is given to private trusts and directly monitored by the chief minister’s handpicked officials. Such schools are out of bound for our children,” he said.
n Udayan Trivedi, an advocate of Babra (Amreli district), said Modi’s Gram Mitra project, which envisaged inducting five graduates from every village at Rs 1,000 per month to overcome the unemployment crisis, never took off. “It has left hordes of angry young men,” he said.
n Another much-publicised political move described as “samaras” — promising a grant upwards of Rs 50,000 to villages in which sarpanches and other local representatives were unanimously chosen instead of being elected — allegedly fell flat because officials did not release the money in several cases.
Little wonder that Mahajan’s swipes at Musharaff, Sonia Gandhi and Shankersinh Vaghela made little sense to an electorate that hopes the next election will bring in Narmada water and fetch a decent price for their cotton, sesame, groundnut and wheat crops.