Later in the day, Modi flagged off the Antyodaya Express that would connect workers and labourers in Surat with their hometowns in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Surat has also seen a growth in voices criticising the government over the implementation of GST, along with its take on the Patidar agitations.
The flag off comes at a time when workers in the textile and diamond industry of Surat would be headed back to their native states in the wake of the upcoming Diwali festival. From businesses to labourers, the GST roll-out has led to a negative feedback in the Surat industry, which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would want to put to rest, before the state assembly polls kickstart in December.
Inaugurating the GMERS medical college in his hometown Vadnagar, Modi took a dig at the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime for ignoring health policies during its 10-year stint.
"The previous government had no interest in bringing about changes in healthcare programmes. The last health policy was announced during Atal Behari Vajpayee’s regime around 15 years ago. After that, such a government assumed power that used to hate development. It did not have any empathy for the people. As a result, a new health policy was introduced after almost 15 years by our government," said Modi during a public address earlier on Sunday, while adding that it was his government who brought down prices of stent and was working constantly "to make healthcare affordable to poor".
After a warm welcome by locals during his 6-km roadshow in Vadnagar, Modi visited the B N High School and Hatkeshwar Temple, among other places to relive his childhood memories.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagging off the Antyodaya Express (connecting Udhna in Surat with Jaynagar in Bihar) in Bharuch (Photo: PTI)
At Vadnagar, Modi launched initiatives like the immunisation drive — Mission Intensified Indradhanush — and the 'Innovative mobile-phone Technology for Community Health Operations (ImTeCHO) app that looks to improve maternal, newborn and child health interventions among resource-poor areas in India.
Later, Modi flagged off the Antyodaya Express through a video link from Bharuch, which will start from Udhna in Surat and ends at Jaynagar in Bihar. This is the second Antyodaya Express that has been flagged off, after the same from Mumbai to Gorakhpur.
Addressing the public gathering, Modi said that the express is a commendable initiative by the Rail Ministry for helping workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar who work away from their homes. "It makes easier for people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to go home for Chhath Puja."
Further, lauding Gujarat Narmada Fertilisers Corporation’s (GNFC)'s efforts of neem coating of urea at a plant launch in Bharuch, Modi said: "Neem coating of urea helped farmers and stopped corruption as well as theft. We decided that 100 per cent neem coating of urea has to be done so that it can only be used in farming and not in chemical factories."
"Gujarat's strides in animal husbandry have helped farmers. I told Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to send a team to Gujarat and study the Pashu Arogya Melas. They did that and organised a similar one in Varanasi, which I had the opportunity to visit and see how it helped farmers," Modi further said, before returning to Delhi.
The poll-bound Gujarat will continue to see high-profile visits with the Congress vice president, Rahul Gandhi, visiting for the second time since last one month on Monday (October 9), followed by other key BJP leaders in the coming weeks.