Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on a visit to the revered shrine of Kedarnath, on Friday attacked the Congress party for rejecting his proposal in June 2013 when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat for redevelopment of the Uttarakhand shrine that was badly damaged in the massive flash floods.
Addressing a public meeting after offering prayers at the Kedarnath temple, Modi also said the BJP is trying to develop the Himalayan shrine into an ideal pilgrim centre with quality infrastructure.
Referring to the devastating 2013 flash floods in the state, Modi said he as Chief Minister of Gujarat had visited Uttarakhand in its aftermath to offer help. “I came here to do all that I could for the victims… I had met the then Chief Minister (Vijay Bahuguna) and the state government officials and offered that Gujarat would redevelop Kedarnath. During the meeting they agreed. And I announced it outside in the media.
“But when the news was flashed on television, and it reached Delhi, the people there (UPA government) panicked and within hours the state government was pressurised to announce that it will redevelop Kedarnath itself,” Modi alleged.
Modi said after the BJP government came to power in Uttarakhand earlier this year “I understood that the work of Kedaranath redevelopment will be done by us”.
In June 2013, then Chief Minister Bahuguna and the Congress party had rebuffed Modi’s offer for redevelopment of Kedarnath and his Rs 3 crore cheque, which was in addition to a Rs 2 crore his state had donated for rain disaster relief.
The Congress and other parties had criticised Modi for trying to be the “Rambo” of rescue. The Congress had alleged he was trying to communalise a natural calamity.
Modi, speaking about the work being done in Kedarnath, said: “Through the work we are doing we want to show what an ideal ‘Tirth Kshetra’ (pilgrim centre) should be like, how it should be pilgrim friendly and the wellbeing of the priests should be given importance.
“We are building quality infrastructure in Kedarnath. It will be modern but the traditional ethos will be preserved. We will ensure the environment is not damaged,” Modi said, adding it would also be developed as a site for adventure sports and to showcase the natural beauty of the area.
He was speaking after laying the foundation stone for a slew of reconstruction projects in Kedarpuri, including renovation of Adi Guru Shankaracharya’s tomb which was damaged in the floods.
He said the Himalayas have much to offer – for spiritual pursuits, nature lovers, for those interested in adventure, water sports.
“If we protect the environment, in return it shall protect us all,” he said, adding, “I invite everyone to come and explore the Himalayas.”
He also lauded the people of Uttarakhand for their discipline.
“Discipline is in the blood of people of Uttarakhand, at least one person from each family is a soldier,” the Prime Minister said.
He urged the state government to promote organic farming and turn it into an organic state like Sikkim.
The Prime Minister asked the corporate sector to join in work for development of the country.
“We need more corporate support to work on the development of the country. We need more companies and their corporate social responsibility activities to work on this nation. We will fully develop India by 2022,” he said.