The Gujarat Tourism Corporation has come up with an extremely innovative idea to boost tourism in the state: "Modi Tourism". The idea is to cash in on the phenomenal popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by inviting tourists to his birthplace Vadnagar.
The tour encompasses visits to Vadnagar Prathamik Kumar Shala - the primary school PM went to, Hatkeshwar Temple - where Modi used to spend a lot of time, the streets where he played with his friends. It will also take tourists to the famous Sharmishtha Lake where "Bal Narendra" is said to have wrestled with crocodiles. The tourists will also have the opportunity to interact with Modi's classmates on the making of a great leader.
True to Modi's commitment to the Public Private Partnership model of growth, Gujarat Tourism launched this package in collaboration with Akshar Travels Private Limited.
Now that "Modi tourism" has proven to be extremely successful for Gujarat tourism, here are five more places that they could consider including in the package tour.
1) Place: Naroda Patiya
How to get there: 9 km from Ahmedabad airport.
Significance: On February 28, 2002, a mob of nearly 5,000 people went on a rampage in this area on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, killing 97 Muslims. The rioting lasted more than hours, during which the mob looted, stabbed, sexually assaulted, gang-raped and burnt people individually and in groups. Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat, justified the massacre as a "a spontaneous reaction to the Godhra train carnage" and resulting from the "natural and justified anger of people". Even though he claimed that the state government had nothing to do with the riots, Mayaben Kodnani, who was minister for women and child welfare in Modi's cabinet besides being the BJP MLA from Naroda, was found guilty of being involved in the Naroda Patiya massacre and sentenced to 28 years in prison. Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi was handed imprisonment for life.
2) Place: Krishna-Godavari Basin
How to get there: A yacht ride from Vishakapatnam
Significance: This is the place where, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Gujarat exchequer had to suffer a loss of more than Rs 5,000 crore because the Gujarat government "extended benefits" to the then chief minister Modi's "favoured few" industrialists. The losses were compounded also because of poor management and faulty agreements on the exploration of oil and gas in the basin.
Even though the place is not in Gujarat, Gujarat Tourism can surely make arrangements.
3) Place: Mundra
How to get there: 52km from Bhuj
Significance: This is an excellent place for business tourism. The Adani Group created the Mundra port and SEZ after the Modi government gave it land at a rate between Rs 1 to Rs 32 per square metre, which is a minuscule fraction of the market rate. People who find Mundra too far, can visit Sanand near Ahmedabad where land meant for the Gujarat Agricultural University was given to the Tatas for their Nano plant.
4) Place: Becharaji
How to get there: 108km from Ahmedabad
Significance: This place is important because it stands for a different era in the evolution of Narendra Modi. This was when he had been crowned the Hindu Hriday Samrat, much before he became an icon of development. On September 9, 2002 Modi visited the temple town on his Gujarat Gaurav Yatra. Here's what Modi had to say about the relief camps that gave refuge to the Muslims displaced during the riots earlier that year: "Do we go and run relief camps? Should we open child producing centres?... Hum paanch, humare pachees [laughs]".
The line inspired BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj to remark 12 years later: "The concept of four wives and 40 children will not work in India and the time has come when a Hindu woman must produce at least four children in order to protect Hindu religion".
5) Place: Ahmedabad airport
How to get there: Direct flights available from all major cities.
Significance: In April 2002, Modi addressed a joint press conference at this place along with the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It is here that Vajpayee advised Modi to observe his "Rajdharma" and not discriminate on the basis of religion, caste or community.
Even Gujarat Tourism would know that there is much more to the making of a great leader than his childhood.
Kuchh din to guzaro Gujarat mein...