Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath got together earlier this week in an obviously desperate bid to establish that all was hunky-dory between the people of the two states.
Flatly denying any harassment of North Indians by the Gujarati people, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani blamed it all on the Congress. Even as he avoided taking any names, Rupani’s obvious attack was on Congress MLA Alpesh Thakur, whom the BJP leadership has been repeatedly accusing of inciting trouble in Gujarat, where workers belonging to UP and Bihar have been at the receiving end ever since there was rape of an infant for which the blame was put on “North Indians”. Targeted by violent Gujarati groups, mill workers from UP and Bihar were eventually compelled to flee from the state.
“It is quite evident that a Congress MLA was behind the panic that was created among people of UP and Bihar who are working in Gujarat”, Rupani told the media in Lucknow.
Significantly, Rupani flew down all the way from Ahmedabad in an Adani - owned aircraft only to put up a show of “strong bonding” between UP and Gujarat. He addressed a much hyped but poorly attended ‘UP-Gujarat Unity Dialogue’ together with his UP counterpart Yogi Adityanath , who seemed equally keen to give the Gujarat government a clean chit by dismissing the incidents of harassment of UP people as “media exaggeration.”
In his bid to dismiss the incidents as innocuous, Rupani went to the extent of saying, “there was neither any casualty nor was there a single case of fracture , yet everything was blown out of proportion.”
What surprised all and sundry was the Gujarat chief minister’s claim that he had come down to Lucknow only to invite Yogi Adityanath for the mega unveiling of the statue of Sardar Patel at the Sardar Sarovar Dam near Vadodara in Gujarat. on October 31.
“Titled as the ‘statue of unity’ , this is going to be the world’s tallest statue (182 metres), that would be unveiled by prime minister Narendra Modi “, he said. “I wish to invite the chief minister of UP as well as the people of this state to grace the historic occasion and witness the tribute that is being paid to the tallest architect of India’s unity and integrity. It was Sardar Patel who merged 532 independent states into a united India that you see in its present form”, he added.
Interestingly, he has no plans to make a similar trip to any other state to invite another chief minister.
He went on to claim , “everything was under control after the arrest of more than 700 persons out of which about 50 were connected with the Congress.” Rupani said, “our police have also picked up some 60-70 persons who were found to have misused the social media to spread canard about trouble in the state and once again quite a few of those people were also Congressmen.”
On being asked why the Gujarat government had not acted against the Congress MLA whom they were busy accusing for all the trouble that took place, Rupani said, we are working on that but Congress president Rahul Gandhi should also be taking action against him.
It was clearly evident that the Lucknow visit was primarily a damage control exercise and to put up a facade of bonhomie between the people of the two states
Interestingly however, when a scribe sought his comment on the black flags shown by Congressmen and black balloons released in protest against his Lucknow visit, a UP official butted in to abruptly conclude the interaction with the media.
What the Gujarat chief minister also cleverly avoided to discuss was the fate of those UP residents who had fled from the state out of fear of local attackers and were now back in their homes across different parts of UP. Instead , Rupani went about claiming, “the people of Gujarat have traditionally lived in utmost harmony with the people of UP, who I must admit, have also contributed their bit towards the overall development of my state.”
At the end of the day it was clearly evident that the Lucknow visit was primarily a damage control exercise and to put up a facade of bonhomie between the people of the two states.
The Gujarat CM is understood to be also under much pressure from mill and factory owners in Gujarat where many units are reported to be paralysed on account of the abrupt departure of thousands of workers . No wonder plane to fly down together with his entourage all the way to put up a show here.
And Yogi Adityanath was clearly played ball by adding how the two states had got together to facilitate those who would wish to go to Gujarat to witness the big event of unveiling of Sardar Patel’s statue later this month. He also talked about how the Gujarat CM had agreed to provide land to build a guest house for the benefit of tourists going from UP to visit that state. He left no stone unturned to emphasise how Gujarat and its people had always upheld the values of the nation’s unity and integrity.