Monday, December 12, 2011


WHILE Narendra Modi discovered ‘ Sadbhavana’ in 2011, it was Dr Kanu Kalsaria, who had set up Sadbhavana Trust Hospital in January 1985 in Mahuva. Operational since August 1985, this hospital linked the lean 57- year- old surgeon to the rural masses of Mahuva. His work among the people propelled him to electoral politics and since 1998, Kalsaria has been the undefeated BJP candidate from Mahuva.

Today, apart from the hospital, Kalsaria is also attached to several other charitable trusts in the area. The amiable Kalsaria’s trouble with Modi started when he protested against the setting up of a cement plant in Mahuva by Nirma.

Mahuva, the coastal block of Bhavnagar, which was severely affected by salinity ingress, turned into a green zone after the Keshubhai Patel government built four check dam cum tidal regulatory structures ( CDTRS) across a stretch of 40 km at a cost of over ` 60 crore in 1999.

While the fate of agriculture in the area brightened with CDTRS, the Modi government allocated 4500 hectare land to Nirma for a cement plant. The plant would have displaced as many as 30,000 people apart from irreversibly damaging the agriculture in the area and exploiting the limestone reserve, which serves as a natural barrier for salinity ingress. With an apathetic government on one hand and greedy corporate on the other, Kalsaria carried on his crusade against the plant and was even assaulted by goons near the site of the proposed plant. But his grit paid off and Nirma had to give up their plan. In the process, Kalsaria emerged as the voice of the dispossessed in Saurashtra.

While initially the BJP’s state leadership ignored him, today, Kalsaria is a nightmare for the party. Expulsion would only make him a martyr. Kalsaria knows that the party cannot field him anymore, but that is of little consequence to him.

UNION minister for telecommunications and human resource development Kapil Sibal ruffled many feathers with his comment expressing the desire to regulate social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. Predictably, the Twitterati lampooned him at length.

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, himself a regular on Twitter, wasn’t going to miss this opportunity to attack his favourite target — the United Progressive Alliance ( UPA) government.

He was quick to fire a salvo against Sibal. “ Babasaheb Ambedkar enshrined freedom of expression in the Constitution and on his nirvan diwas ( death anniversary), the UPA is seeking to to snatch it away! People are best judge,” the combative chief minister tweeted on Wednesday.

Of course, this support for the freedom of speech is rather interesting, coming from a politician who is known to have little tolerance towards dissent.


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