Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday attacked the Congress for denying his proposal in June 2013 when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat for redevelopment of the revered Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath that was badly damaged in the catastrophic flash floods.
“The floods of 2013 had made all of us extremely sad. That time I was not the Prime Minister, I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. I came here to do all that I could for the victims,” Modi said while addressing a public meeting here after offering prayers at the Kedarnath temple ahead of its closure for the next six months.
“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, in his address to the gathering in Kedarnath on Friday, said: “Through the work we are doing in Kedarnath, we want to show how 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 added.
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 devastated in the flash floods.