The Shiv Sena on Monday accused the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre of running a “garibi chupao” (hide poverty) campaign by building a wall to hide slums in a part of Ahmedabad during United States President Donald Trump’s visit to the city later this month. Trump will visit Ahmedabad and New Delhi on February 24 and 25.
“There was a time when the slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’ was criticised, but it appears the new agenda is Garibi Chupao,” the Shiv Sena said in an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana, referring to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s slogan to end poverty. “Trump’s visit is scheduled for three hours, but the preparations for it are costing the country’s exchequer Rs 100 crore, including making of 17 roads in Ahmedabad, and building walls on these roads.”
The Shiv Sena said this reflected a “slave mentality” within the government, a remnant from the time India was ruled by the British and the country would gear up for a visit by the king or queen.
The Shiv Sena, formerly an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, asked whether the wall would be pulled down after Trump left, or whether it would remain standing, to “choke” the inhabitants of the slums. The party also wondered if Trump would pay to build the wall.
“Trump’s visit to India is not going to stop the value of the rupee from falling, or put an end to poverty,” the editorial in Saamana said. The editorial asked if the 2020-’21 Union Budget had allocated funds for Trump’s visit.
The editorial also made sarcastic remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It claimed that Modi was the “biggest endorser of development” and added that no development had taken place before he came to power, and none would take place after he stepped down. “When he was the chief minister of Gujarat for 15 years, and the prime minister of India for five years, why has it come to this that poverty needs to be concealed?”
The party alleged that the “Kem Cho Trump” (Howdy Trump) roadshow had been planned because there were many Gujaratis in the United States. It said that the timing of the rally, to be held the same year as the US presidential elections, is significant. At a massive event in Houston in September, Modi had appeared to endorse Trump for the upcoming US elections, but later, the Ministry of External Affairs had dismissed it, saying Modi’s statements had been misinterpreted.
The Shiv Sena also asked the Centre what message it intended to send out by making Trump land in Ahmedabad instead of New Delhi. About 1.25 lakh people are expected to attend the event at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium.