‘I am a state level worker, he (Togadia) works at the international level now, his canvas is wider’
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Even for the hard-boiled political reporter, a meeting with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is a remarkable experience. There is no fleet of cars parked outside Bungalow No. 26, his official residence in Gandhinagar. There is no crowd waiting for darshan. Political hangers-on are conspicuous by their absence. The only indication of VIP status is the security cordon outside the house. In fact, the first-time visitors often presume that Narendra Modi is not in! N.K. Singh met him in the run-up to assembly polls to talk about how he assesses his record in power, his preparation for the impending political battle, the dissidence within the BJP and why he won't answer questions on the 2002 riots
Looking back at your six years in power, is there a sense of satisfaction? Or do you feel it was too short a period to fulfil the goals you had set for yourself?
In our set-up, one gets only a five-year term. But one can start implementing one's dreams, provided there is a level building field. It is our misfortune that after Independence, after Gujarat came into existence in 1960, no one thought about the basic infrastructure for development. Much of my effort has gone into filling up that gap. For 10 years Gujarat had banned the recruitment of teachers. We had to recruit one lakh teachers to fill up this gap. So, much of my efforts during the last five years were diverted towards creating this basic infrastructure which ought to have been done by my predecessors. In that sense, I find the five-year term a little too short.
As far as my new initiatives and innovative schemes are concerned, whether it is in social infrastructure or physical infrastructure, you will find a fresh approach. I have tried to bring in real democracy. We have taken the path of people's participation. After the 2001 earthquake we had to rebuild this state. How could the government build thousands of schoolrooms? So we formed a committee of villagers, gave them designs, created a material bank, gave them money. And they built the school buildings much before the stipulated time. They built better and bigger schools, and even returned the money they saved.
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