Medha Patekar appeared in Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, why did PM Modi make an issue

At present Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is passing through Gujarat. Voting is going to be held here next month for the assembly elections. With the participation of activist Medha Patkar, a member of the Aam Aadmi Party, in this yatra, the Congress has come under attack from the BJP. In fact, Medha Patkar was in an important role in the Narmada Bachao Andolan and she has an old enmity with PM Modi regarding this project. This is the reason why  Not only BJP leaders but PM Modi has also taunted about this. 

PM’s taunt ‘putting his hand on that sister’s shoulder’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi indirectly targeted the Congress and Medha Patkar at a rally on Monday (21 November). In the rally, PM Modi said,  “Today it is easy to remember Mother Narmada in Surendranagar district. I will come to Surendranagar many times for Narmada Yojana because Surendranagar district will be benefited the most. But think about those who have been removed from the post by the countrymen. Such people are now traveling for office.” Significantly, during the campaign for the assembly elections in his home state of Gujarat, the PM had made a similar attack on the Congress at Dhoraji’s rally.

The PM did not name Rahul Gandhi at the Dhoraji rally in Gujarat on Sunday, 20 November, but he was his target. The PM started his talk in such a way that you must have seen a picture of a Congress leader in newspapers with people opposing the Narmada project. 

He said, “ Think about the people who obstructed the Narmada project, Narmada was the only source of drinking water for our people in Kutch and Saurashtra. To stop that water for three decades, they went to court, did agitations. He also left no stone unturned to defame Gujarat. The result was that no one in the world including the World Bank was ready to lend money to Gujarat. Yesterday, a Congress leader went on a padyatra with his hand on the shoulder of the sister who led the movement.” 

PM further said, "You should question them on what basis they are asking you people to vote for yourself."  PM Modi also said that this shows that these people are only taking steps towards destroying Gujarat. People need to question Congress that why it is trying to reconcile with people who are pushing Gujarat towards destruction. 

When you do something for the society, the people involved in social welfare themselves join you… Social worker Medha Patkar participated in ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. pic.twitter.com/zkUsab9R8x

— Bharat Jodo (@bharatjodo) November 17, 2022

‘Patkar an urban Naxal’

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel did not hesitate to use the term Urban Naxal directly for Patkar. CM Patel said, “We should remember who were those people who kept Kutch away from Narmada water for almost 5 decades.

Who is Medha Patkar?

Born on 1 December 1954 in Bombay (now Mumbai), Medha Patkar is a famous social activist. His father Basant Khanolkar was a freedom fighter and trade union leader and mother Indumati Khanolkar was a gazetted officer in the Posts and Telegraphs Department. His brother Mahesh Khanolkar is an architect. 

He did his MA in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Patkar has been very serious about issues related to tribals, Dalits, farmers, laborers and women. He has also done a lot of work on these. Especially in the country and the world, he is recognized as the founder member of Narmada Bachao Andolan i.e. NBA.

In the 1990s, NBA and Patkar got recognition not only in the country but also abroad for openly criticizing the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD). Then it was proposed to build this dam on the Narmada river flowing through Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

Medha believed that due to the construction of this dam  Thousands of tribals will be in loss. The residence of the tribals will be taken away, they will have to be displaced. Farmers will also be ruined. To provide justice and compensation to these people and to devote full time to NBA, he left his PhD in between. If he got accolades during this movement, he also had to face criticism. There were also cases against him in the courts.  

Medha Patkar and BJP’s old feud

Due to NBA  Patkar often used to lead protests. Along with demanding compensation for the people who were displaced due to the SSD project, she also went on a hunger strike for several days demanding to stop the project. In the year 2000, the Supreme Court ordered the continuation of this project.  But Patkar did not stop working on such issues.

In the year 2011, he was also criticized a lot in the case of filing false affidavits in his court regarding the people affected by the Narmada project in Madhya Pradesh. In fact, Medha Patkar was reprimanded by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court for filing a false affidavit in a case involving people affected by the Narmada Project in MP.

He started his political career by joining AAP. He also contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as an AAP candidate from Mumbai’s North-East seat. However, upset with the expulsion of senior AAP leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan from the AAP’s National Executive Body, Medha said goodbye to the AAP party in the next year i.e. 2015. With this his political career came to an end. Now, due to her participation in the Bharat Jodo Yatra of Congress, she has become the headlines of national politics. 

Sardar Sarovar Dam Project

The Sardar Sarovar Dam project was the ambitious dream of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Iron Man of India who was the first Home Minister of India. Its foundation stone was laid by the country’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in April 1961. According to the SSD website, this plan to harness the river for irrigation and power generation in the Narmada basin was started in 1946.

Nehru had been a supporter of such projects. those dams "Temples of Modern India" Used to say After the country got independence, many dam projects were inaugurated to meet the needs of water and power generation. Because of the dispute over the sharing of Narmada water between Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, a committee headed by Dr. AN Khosla was constituted to decide the project.

In the year 1965, the Khosla Committee had recommended the construction of a high dam with a full reservoir of 500 feet, but the Madhya Pradesh government did not agree to it. Because of this, after 4 years, the Government of India constituted the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) in October 1969. In this case, after 10 years, the NWDT gave its final verdict in 1979. In this, instructions were given to give maximum water to the MP. After this Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra were asked to give water. 

With the help of the World Bank, ground work on this project was started in the 1980s. As soon as this project started, some local people and activists like Medha Patkar opposed it. This protest was about the proper  rehabilitation of tribals and other people. The 1,210-metre-long dam was inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi in 2017 after years of legal hurdles. 

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