Gandhinagar: Narendra Modi on Monday got a boost in the runup to the announcement of BJP`s prime ministerial candidate with his Punjab counterpart and NDA ally Parkash Singh Badal praising him as the country`s "greatest leader" and asking him to go beyond Gujarat.
"I thank the greatest leader of the country and Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi for organising a first of this kind summit to address the problems of country`s farmers," Badal said at the start of his address at the inaugural session of Vibrant Gujarat Global Agriculture Summit 2013 here.
The five-time 85-year-old chief minister also asked Modi not to restrict himself to Gujarat.
"Modiji you should not consider yourself limited only to Gujarat, you should not write vibrant Gujarat, you should write vibrant India, why are you confining yourself only to Gujarat, go beyond..." Badal said.
"Gujarat is the state which gave birth to Mahatma Gandhi, which gave us Sardar Patel and now it has given `Sardar` Modi to our nation," said the veteran Shiromani Akali Dal leader.
Badal, the only ally of BJP so far to come out in open support of Modi as Prime Ministerial candidate, also announced that a similar summit would be held in Punjab next February.
The SAD supremo, however, refrained from raising the controversial issue of Sikh farmers in Gujarat who are up in arms against Gujarat government for allegedly depriving them of lands. When asked by reporters afterwards about this, he said the matter was before the court and therefore he would not comment.
In his 30-minute speech, Badal attacked the Centre for ignoring farmers.
"For past many years farmers and agriculture have become the most neglected in our country," he said.
"No Chief Minister is being consulted before taking decisions on farmers` issues... Every support price for farmers` production is decided by the Centre."
"When this country needed grain, government gave the slogan `Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan`. But when the need was over they neglected farmers.
Don`t forget that you will need farmers in future too. What will you do then?" he said.