Year-old tweet against Narmada project haunts Cong in Gujarat

Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat. DH file photo

A year-old tweet in support of Narmada dam project detractor Medha Patkar's agitation that was recently deleted by newly appointed Congress party in-charge in Gujarat Rajeev Satav, raised political temperature in the state on Wednesday.

What added fuel to the fire was a statement by the Leader of the Opposition Paresh Dhanani supporting his leader's stand. This saw ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat, led by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, pounce upon the opportunity to hit out at Congress, calling it "anti-Gujarat".

Satav, a Lok Sabha MP from Maharashtra and a close confidante of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, was appointed in-charge of Gujarat Congress on March 30 replacing Ashok Gehlot. Satav had on August 5, 2017, tweeted and written a letter in support of Medha Patkar who was on an indefinite fast against MP government seeking what she called the proper implementation of resettlement package for those displaced due to raising height of Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat.

"I am aware of the fact that Narmada dam project violates basic human rights under the garb of developmentI extend my full support to your movement," Satav wrote in the letter along with the tweet he deleted just before coming to Gujarat as Congress party in-charge.

Medha Patkar, through the 1980s, had consistently opposed construction of Narmada dam and launched series of agitations against the project. She is seen by many in Gujarat as persona non grata and politicians in the state cutting across party lines till date have blamed her for the delay in construction of dam.

Dhanani came out in support of Satav, stating that if Medha had not agitated and put pressure on Madhya Pradesh government to complete resettlement of the displaced people, the project would not have got permission and could not have been completed. "I am thankful to Rajeev Satav for supporting Medha's agitation for resettlement of those affected by the project," Paresh Dhanani said.

This saw Chief Minister Vijay Rupani hit out at Congress. "It is sad and at the same time I pity Congress the way it is getting exposed of its anti-Gujarat stance. By now openly coming out in support of Medha's agitations that were anti-Gujarat, Congress is showing that it also did not want Narmada project to be implemented," he said.

The BJP state president Jitu Vaghani went to the extent of starting a "People's movement" against Congress if it did not come clean on its stance.

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