Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna today agreed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the then Gujarat Chief Minister, had offered help to rebuild Kedarnath after the devastating 2013 floods in the region. However, Modi’s offer was not accepted. During his visit to the Kedarnath shrine today, PM Modi said that the then Congress Government at Centre did not allow him as Gujarat chief minister to rebuild the shrine in 2013.
Modi today hit out at the Congress after laying the foundation stones of five reconstruction projects at Kedarnath. “I expressed my wish to carry out reconstruction work at Kedarnath to the then chief minister of the state who agreed in principle. In my excitement I shared the development with the media and within an hour TV channels flashed it, causing a storm in New Delhi. They (UPA government) viewed the development with a kind of alarm as they thought the Gujarat chief minister will now reach Kedarnath and mounted pressure on the then state government not to agree to my request,” Modi said.
The PM further said that the then chief minister Vijay Bahuguna Joshi, who has now joined BJP, had no choice but to issue a statement saying it did not need the help of the Gujarat government. “I went back disappointed. But perhaps Baba (Lord Shiva) had decided that the responsibility of doing reconstruction work at Kedarnath should be assigned to no one else but to Baba’s son,” Modi said.
Reacting Modi’s comments, Joshi told ANI, “True, Modi ji came to Dehradun, at my residence he gave a cheque of Rs 5 cr for relief on behalf of Gujarat government (in 2013). He had kept a proposal to reconstruct the shrine devastated in Kedarnath after the floods. I thanked him on his proposal and said we will consider it. Later we took a decision to do it ourself. We had informed him. Circumstances were such that we took that decision; won’t comment more as I am not in Congress anymore.”
Meanwhile, the Congress has Modi of “disrespecting” traditions during his Kedarnath visit and “misleading” the people on redevelopment work of the shrine after the 2013 deluge.
The party claimed that Modi’s visit was planned with Gujarat elections in mind and reflected Modi’s “arrogance” as he had addressed a gathering there with his back towards Lord Shiva’s shrine “while donning Italian glasses”.
Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala alleged, “Modiji has disrespected our tradition and culture by putting up a stage right outside the main entry of Kedarnath and giving his speech with his back towards Lord Shiva.”
He added, “Speaking lies before Lord Shiva! Modiji you forgot to tell people that the Congress government at the Centre gave a redevelopment package of Rs 6,000 crore for Kedarnath in 2013.”
(With inputs from agencies)