Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial at Dandi in Gujarat on Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary today. The memorial is a tribute to the 80 marchers who accompanied Mahatma Gandhi from Sabarmati to Dandi in 1930. During his address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at his detractors saying people with "negative mentality" had tried to stop Mahatma Gandhi from taking out the historic Dandi march and are now questioning him and his government for floating pro-people schemes.
Without taking any name, Modi said such people raised doubts on schemes launched by his government for the poor such as building toilets and providing free gas connections. "When Mahatma Gandhi decided to take out the Dandi March (in 1930), some people objected to it as they had doubts (about the success of the agitation). "But Gandhi was Gandhi... Gandhi continued with his plans as he knew the power of salt and also understood its attachment with each section of the society," he said.
Modi was speaking after dedicating the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial and Museum at Dandi in Gujarat's Navsari district on Mahatma Gandhi's 71st death anniversary. "What would have happened if Gandhiji came under the influence of such people and aborted his movement. Such negative mentality, unfortunately, still exists today. Moreover, it's now laced with vested interests," he said.
The prime minister said some people wondered how the schemes launched by the NDA government is going to change the lives of the poor and underprivileged. He talked about the "criticism and ridicule" the government faced for its initiative such as construction of toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission.
"In the last four-and-a-half years, such people (having negative mentality) asked me many questions - 'What will change by building toilets? Is it the work of a prime minister to do cleaning? How can gas connections change the lives? People will not forget such questions," he maintained. It is necessary to tell such people that big change would come only by changing small habits, he said.
Claiming that his government has built over 9 crore toilets since 2014, Modi said petty-minded people would never understand how toilets have changed the lives of women. Enlisting steps his government has taken to revive khadi as well as other cottage and rural industries, Modi said the turnover of such entities, which was Rs 30,000 crore before 2014, had doubled in the last four-and-a-half years.
Referring to some critical views about the newly- inaugurated Statue of Unity of Sardar Patel in Gujarat's Narmada district, he said no French or US citizen had ever criticised their iconic monuments like the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty.
"However, there are people in India who have criticised the Statue of Unity. But today, it has became a major (tourist) attraction, drawing over 5 lakh visitors every month," said Modi. He exuded confidence that the Salt Memorial at Dandi would also become a major tourist destination and in turn help local residents in earning their livelihood.
The crowd loudly cheered Modi when he said even a 'chaiwala' (tea seller), along with other small vendors and auto drivers, would benefit from this memorial. The memorial has statues of Mahatma Gandhi and 80 'satyagrahis' who had marched with him during the historic Dandi Salt March (also called Dandi March). It also has 24-narrative murals depicting various events and stories from the march.
Satyagraha, a form of non-violent agitation, means adherence to or insistence on truth. As part of the civil disobedience movement against the British rule, 80 satyagrahis led by Gandhi marched 241 miles from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad to the coastal village of Dandi and made salt from seawater, breaking the salt law imposed by the British.