Ahmedabad/Palanpur/Modasa/Dehgam, Nov 24 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday it was time to generate income from electricity instead of getting it for free, an apparent reference to promise of free power made by some parties in Gujarat, and asserted the next month's Assembly election is about deciding the state's destiny for the next 25 years.
Stepping up his campaigning for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with just a week left for the first phase of polling, Modi addressed four rallies for the second consecutive day in different parts of the state in support of ruling party candidates.
Addressing an election rally in Modasa town of Aravalli district in north Gujarat, the PM said only he knows the art through which people can earn money from electricity.
Both Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress, political rivals of the BJP, have promised free electricity (up to 300 units per month) to people if voted to power in Gujarat.
Seeking to counter their free power promise, Modi said he wants to see people across Gujarat earning money from excess electricity generated from solar rooftop systems instead of just getting it for free.
"You must have seen how the entire Modhera village (in Mehsana district) is now running on rooftop solar power. They are using electricity as per their need and sell excess power (to the government). I want to replicate this system across Gujarat," he said.
"Under this system, you can earn money by selling excess electricity generated from solar panels. Only Modi knows this art wherein people will be able to earn from electricity," said the PM.
He told the audience a woman from Modhera is now planning to buy a refrigerator and an air-conditioner as electricity has become affordable after the installation of rooftop solar power.
"She told me that though her family was able to afford the appliances earlier, they refrained from using them because they could not bear the running cost. Now, they can afford it because electricity is free. I am working to bring this revolution at the doorstep of each and every household in Gujarat," the PM said.
The PM said now farmers are themselves generating electricity through solar panels installed on unused corners of their farms.
"They can also sell excess electricity and earn money. The era of demanding affordable electricity has gone. Today, you can generate income by selling electricity," said Modi, who served as Gujarat CM from 2001 to 2014.
On the occasion, Modi also slammed the Congress, saying the opposition party only believes in the formula of "divide and rule" and it only focusses on how to get power.
"Rajasthan is near your border, have you seen any development in that state? Have you seen any good news coming out of that state? The Congress cannot do development," he said.
At another election meeting in Palanpur town of Banaskantha district, Modi said the upcoming polls will decide the state's destiny for the next 25 years.
The PM said though many development works have been carried out by the BJP in Gujarat and the Centre, time has come to take a "giant leap".
"This election is not about who will become an MLA or whose government will be formed. This election is all about deciding Gujarat's destiny for the next 25 years," Modi said.
The PM said he was making efforts to put Gujarat, being ruled by the BJP for the last 27 years, in the league of developed nations.
"Time has come to take a giant leap now. And, I need your support to form a strong government in Gujarat. You don't have to tell me your issues because I grew up here and I very well understand those issues. I appeal to you to make the BJP victorious in all the seats of Banaskantha," said Modi.
Voting in Banaskantha district will be held in the second phase on December 5.
At the third rally of the day at Dehgam town of Gandhinagar district, the Prime Minister said the BJP government in Gujarat has transformed the education sector and made it more scientific and modern, touching upon an election issue which is being aggressively pushed by the AAP.
The PM pointed out that Gujarat's education budget has now gone up to Rs 33,000 crore, more than the total budget outlay of several states.
Notably, the comments the BJP's star campaigner on Gujarat's education scenario came at a time when the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP has been aggressively pitching the 'Delhi model' of education and has promised to revamp government-run schools if voted to power in the state.
"Nearly 20 to 25 years back, Gujarat's budget allocation for education was just Rs 1,600 crore. Today, it stands at Rs 33,000 crore, more than the total budget outlay of many states. This is the progress we have made," said Modi.
"The changes we brought in this sector have benefited the people of the entire Gujarat. The BJP government in Gujarat has transformed the education sector in the state and made it more scientific and modern," he said.
The PM told the gathering that Gandhinagar has now become an education hub housing numerous colleges and universities.
Taking on the Congress, the PM said leaders of the opposition party do not have any vision for developing Gujarat as they are busy criticising him all the time.
At the fourth campaign rally of the day at Bavla village in Ahmedabad district, the Prime Minister alleged villages in Gujarat remained neglected as the previous Congress governments did not follow Mahatma Gandhi's values.
"Mahatma Gandhi used to say that the soul of India resides in its villages. But Congress leaders never cared to follow Gandhian values. They actually crushed that soul. Villages remained neglected and their true potential was never realised," he noted.
Voting to elect a new 182-member Gujarat Assembly will be held in two phases -- December 1 (89 seats) and 5 (93 seats) -- and ballots will be counted on December 8. A total of 1,621 candidates are in the fray for the 182 Assembly seats. PTI PJT PD GK KRK RSY RSY