BJP candidate from Morbi for the Gujarat Assembly polls Kantilal Amrutiya on Saturday revealed that he had tirelessly worked with PM Narendra Modi for the rescue and rehabilitation of those affected by the Machchhu dam failure in 1979. PM Modi was the RSS sambhaag pracharak (regional organiser) for Surat and Vadodara back then.
Amrutiya, a former MLA, told news agency ANI: “Narendra Modi and I worked there for two months in 1979 at that time (1979 Machchhu dam failure). Around 4,000 people died and their bodies were retrieved by our workers.” The Machchhu dam failure was a flood disaster that occurred on August 11, 1979. The earthen embankment of the Machhu 2 dam had failed on that day due to heavy rain and flooded the Morbi industrial town, killing thousands of people.
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The five-time MLA had jumped into the Machchhu river in Morbi to save people after the bridge over it broke. The tragedy killed over 130 people. “The Morbi bridge collapse was an unfortunate incident. The CM has formed a probe committee and the matter is being heard in court,” he said.
Speaking on the upcoming polls, Amrutiya said: “We’ll win all 5 seats in Morbi district. People have an affinity for us. We work for them round the clock and I work for them with dedication.”
In 2017, Amrutiya lost to Congress’s Brijesh Merja by over 3,000 votes, thanks to a widespread Patidar-reservation agitation. Merja, however, ditched the Congress in 2020 and joined the BJP.
Last year, Merja secured a ministerial berth in the Bhupendra Patel Cabinet as the Minister of State with independent charge of panchayat as well as the skill, labour and employment department. Sources said that it was a tough choice between Merja and Amrutiya, but the latter eventually won the race for the ticket.
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In a recent interview with The Indian Express, Amrutiya claimed that while he had jumped into the Machchhu river to save people after the Morbi bridge collapse, “AAP and Congress leaders were sitting on the banks, giving interviews”.
Amrutiya will go up against Morbi district Congress president Jayanti Patel and Pankaj Ransariya of the AAP. Elections to the 182-member Gujarat Assembly will be held in two phases on December 1 and 5, while votes will be counted on December 8. The results will be declared the same day.
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