Modi 'pulls a fast one' for peace

Gujarat CM pledges to end vote-bank politics

Modi 'pulls a fast one' for peace

And not lost in the din was the clear message: The Gujarat chief minister is pushing hard towards an image makeover to realise his national political ambitions.

And much to his glee, not just the entire top brass of his party was there to cheer him on, but most National Democratic Alliance constituents turned up at the venue. AIADMK chief Jayalalitha even sent her representatives. 

The developments in the last few days have made political observers wonder whether Modi was fast-tracking his move towards national politics. He began the day by seeking blessings from his mother before beginning the fast, which was countered by Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, who staged a hunger strike on a footpath near the Sabarmati Ashram near Gandhinagar in the company of party leaders and workers.

Flanked by top BJP and allied party leaders, Modi began  the fast on his birthday.
Fighting hard to remove the taint of 2002 violence, Modi vowed to end vote-bank politics but said nothing directly by way of regret for the post-Godhra carnage. 

“I had said at that time (2002) these riots should not have happened in a civilised society. At that time I had felt the pain and now also I am feeling the pain,” he said in his speech to an audience that had a sprinkling of Muslims, Christians and Sikhs among others.

Parameters of humanity

Often attacked for his alleged complicity in the violence that shook Gujarat after the Sabarmati Express carnage, the Gujarat chief minister said he wanted to ensure that Gujarat never slips below the parameters of humanity. 

In between sp­e­eches, groups of men, women and girls from different communities mounted the stage to greet Modi.

Maintaining that the fast was not against anybody, Modi said: “We want to take this spirit to every village. and every house. Gujarat wants to move forward. We want to be in service of India. We want to move together and Sadhbhavna (harmony) will be our strength. Development is our only motto. We will be a model for the world on how development can be achieved with peace, harmony and brotherhood.

“Six crore Gujaratis have gone through a lot of penance to ensure such a situation. If I fast, my words would carry more weight and I will be able to reach out to more people. Over the last 10 years we have been humiliated. I have faced every attack so that you (people) do not feel the pain. I want to ensure that Gujarat never slips below the parameters of humanity.

“Gujarat has been successful in its experiments in all sectors and has scaled new heights. After the 2001 earthquake, Gujarat was devastated and many thought it would never rise again, but Gujarat has proved them wrong.” .

The BJP leader added: “In the very next year, 2002, Gujarat saw gruesome communal riots. This incident once again renewed the discussion that Gujarat has gone back on the path of destruction, but we handled this situation strictly and with strength.  Even in 2008 after the (serial) blasts (in Ahmedabad)there were no riots or untoward incident but no one acknowledged this peace and unit in time of adversity.”

Sizable presence

Top BJP leaders L K Advani, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Muktar Abbas Naqvi and Rajiv Pratap Rudy were on the stage along with Punjab Chief Minister Pr­akash Singh Badal, AIADMK leaders M Thambidurai and V Maitreyan. But BJP’s longtime ally, the Janata Dal (United) was conspicuous by its absence. Karnataka Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda is extending support to Modi by participating in the fast on Sunday.
Praising Modi for Gujarat’s development, Advani said if the whole country adopted a policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism and corruption like the Gujarat chief minister had done, India would rise to new heights at the global level.

Commenting on Modi’s speech at his fast venue, Jaitley said: “In the next few months, each and every word of what Modi has said would be analysed.” 

On the one hand, Gujarat has a government which is taking the state to new heights and, on the other, you have a worrisome situation over the atmosphere of corruption and despair at the central level, he said.

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