18,000 villages in Guj will have broadband: Modi

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Gandhinagar, Feb 2 (UNI) Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today said as many as 18,000 villages in the state will have broadband connection and every village will have computers in the coming days.

Mr Modi, who was addressing NRIs at Royal Albert Palace Hall in New York via video conferencing from his official residence here, emphasised the need for enhancing connectivity in the state.

Refuting the charge that he did not espouse the ideals of secularism, Mr Modi said, ''For me, the best definition of secularism is - welfare for all, development for all and concern for all.'' ''I don't talk in terms of ours and theirs, I have always championed the cause of 5.5 crore Gujaratis. When we make plans to provide water, people from all walks of society are included,'' he said.

He laughed away the suggestion that he was being viewed as the future prime minister. ''I am interested only in serving Gujarat. I follow development 'Mantra'. I believe that service of Gujarat is service of the nation, if Gujarat is developed, other states too will benefit,'' Mr Modi said.

''I don't believe in the politics of vote bank. For me development also means better pollution management. Gujarat has introduced CNG vehicles and made a good progress in reducing the level of pollution in the state,'' he added.

The Chief Minister lambasted the opposition for promises like repeal of helmet law and others. He alleged that the Congress never attached enough importance to the problem of road safety.

He asked the audience to compare the development achieved 15 years ago and the development made during the BJP rule.

Mr Modi said the Central Government should invite patients from other countries to India as states like Gujarat have state-of-the-art medical facilities.

He said, ''I have made a suggestion to the Prime Minister that overseas patients coming to India for medical help should be provided with an insurance cover.'' Mr Modi also announced that the golden jubilee of the formation of the state will be celebrated in 2010.

UNI HT NM OBB RSA RN2037

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