Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stepped up campaigning for his party BJP in Gujarat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today 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 that 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, the Prime Minister 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 Mr Modi.
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.
He 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 Mr Modi, who had served as the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014.
Mr Modi also slammed the Congress, saying the opposition party only believes in the formula of "divide and rule" and it only focuses 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, Mr Modi said the upcoming polls will decide the state's destiny for the next 25 years.
He added that 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," Mr Modi said.
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 of 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.
The PM told the gathering that Gandhinagar has now become an education hub housing numerous colleges and universities.
"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.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)