- PM Modi visits Vadnagar for the first time since becoming PM
- Inaugurates Rs 400 crore multi-speciality hospital, addressed a rally
- PM on third visit in a month to Gujarat where elections are due this year
"I started my journey from Vadnagar and now I have reached Kashi (his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi). Just like Vadnagar, Kashi is also the town of Bhole Baba (Lord Shiva)," the Prime Minister said. The blessings of Lord Shiva, he said, gave him "the strength to drink and digest poison". "Due to this ability, I was able to counter all those who spewed venom against me since 2001," he said.
"Coming back to one's hometown and receiving such a warm welcome is special. Whatever I am today is due to the values I have learnt on this soil, among you all in Vadnagar," added PM Modi after inaugurating a multi-specialty hospital and an immunization programme at the end of a colourful roadshow.
The city, barely 100 km from Ahmedabad, has been preparing for weeks for this visit. Hoardings and buntings lined the roads and the kiosk at the local railway station, where, as a boy, the Prime Minister helped his father and uncle sell tea, was festooned with flowers.
On the way to the hospital, PM Modi made an impromptu visit to the school he had attended. Leaving behind his security men, he got off the black SUV, and walked to the entrance. As before his entry to Parliament after the election victory in 2014, he knelt at the threshold and bowed before entering the school grounds.
Later in the day, he addressed a public gathering in Bharuch, a key town in South Gujarat, after he flagged off the Antyodaya Express that will run between Udhna in Gujarat and Jaynagar in Bihar.
The two-day visit comes after the GST (Goods and Services Tax) Council carried out major changes in the new tax regime. The council has reduced the monthly tax payment for small businesses to once every quarter. It has also slashed taxes on 27 items including khakra, a hugely popular Gujarati snack.
"Diwali has come early," the Prime Minister had declared, pointing to the GST changes. The government said the steps are a reflection of its continuous efforts to safeguard citizens' interest.