New Delhi, Oct 7: The BJP top brass sang paeans to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for transforming the state into an economic powerhouse with former Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie going to the extent of saying that ''Mr Modi is a prime ministerial material''.
Mr Shourie made these remarks at a high-profile function yesterday, attended by former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and former Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, to release a report on Gujarat's economy.
While Mr Shourie's support was unqualified, both Mr Advani and Mr Shekhawat qualified their remarks by saying such an economic miracle would not have been possible in any other state.
The credit for this needs to be shared by both Mr Modi and the entrepreneurial skills of the people of Gujarat, said Mr Advani.
Mr Shekhawat said that Mr Modi was able to carry out far-reaching progressive policies of of growth because he was not heading a coalition government.
''I know from my experiences as a former Chief Minister of Rajasthan that how difficult it is to execute your policies if you are heading a coalition government,'' he said.
Mr Modi, who was the king of the show, seemed to have been taken aback at the remarks of Mr Shourie, but gave a subtle approval to the idea. He remarked: ''No Chief Minister in the recent past has survived for more than two to three years. I am the only one who has been in power for six years on the trot.''
The remarks of the BJP leadership need to be viewed in the context of the assembly elections in Gujarat by the year-end. The statement of Mr Shourie about Mr Modi being the prime ministerial material was made in the presence of Mr Advani, who is also a contender to the throne.
''Gujarat and Narendra Modi have become synonymous with performance and for getting things done,'' Mr Shourie said, giving a clean chit to the controversial and hardline leader.
The report by Ernst and Young says Gujarat is fuelling the country's high growth rate and is first among equals.
''Gujarat is a success within the larger Indian success story that one can boast of robust economic health, higher GSDP growth rate exceeding ten per cent, higher per capita net income of 833 dollars against the national average of 622 dollars, exports which account for 15 per cent of the country's total exports and a higher sectoral growth in agriculture, industry and services.'' Incidentally, E&Y is advisor to the Guajrat Government in matters relating to investment.
Mr Shourie predicted that the next prime minister would be from a state for Delhi has been experiencing ''a paralysis''. ''Some states are performing and Gujarat is one of them,'' said Mr Shourie who had courted controversies for his role as Disinvestment Minister. Mr Advani said Mr Modi was a hero who had tireleesly and sincerely worked for the progress of the state despite having been vilified by his opponents. While the hallmark of the rest of the country was that of cynicism and skepticism, Gujarat had done quite the opposite, he said.
Mr Shekhawat enjoined upon Mr Modi to be wary of personality-based achievements. ''There should be a complete harmony between policies and the political apparatus,'' he said.
Mr Modi spoke at length as to how he had been able to transform the economy of the state by essaying a slew of innovtaive measures, like e-governance. He said he had worked ceaselessly to improve the lot of the common man and give him a better quality of life.
''My government has shown to the other states how success can be achieved even within the existing system if the administration is policy-driven, which leaves little scope for grey areas, interpretations and corruption,'' he said.
''The state administration has made it possible through its philosophy of 'Minimum Government and Maximum Governance' and by creating an enabling environment for industry. It has also improved the State's social indicators and position on the Human Development Index.'' In short, Gujarat is not only a story of rapid economic growth but also of inclusive growth and industrial progress with a human face.
Mr Modi said the state's experiments in social innovation hinged on the four pillars of good governance, wealth creation, human resource development and wellness.
Gujarat's initiatives in good governance cover a gamut of socially relevant issues, including providing greater access, increasing transparency, improving effectiveness of governnace, speeding up dispensation of justice, upgrading social infrastructure, reducing pollution and improving the overall quality of life.
''Gujarat is the one state that has devised innovative methods to connect with the last person in village through proactive governance,'' says the report: ''Gujarat: Beyond the Obvious -- A Reportage on Initiatives for Inclusive Growth''.
The report highlights the 72 initiatives taken by the state government in 72 months of it being in power. On Oct 6 marked the completion of the 72nd month of the Modi Government.