Vadnagar turns festive as local boy gets top job

Vadnagar turns festive as local boy gets top job

If the Raisina Hills were all decked up to welcome India’s 15th prime minister and his guests and Cabinet colleagues, in Narendra Modi's hometown of Vadnagar in Gujarat, it was a day of pride as the son of the soil was now to lead the country. Vadnagar residents' dreams had come true, and they believe the town would always remain in Modi's heart.

On Monday evening, people across the town gathered at an amphitheatre created around the Sharmishtha lake, where Modi had swum around as a child on a stormy evening and taken home a baby alligator and showed to his mother.

Everywhere, the people have some story or the other to narrate about Modi's childhood and youth.

They are proud that he had put this village on his list of priorities as chief minister, and the development, in terms of roads and electricity, is there for all to see. Therefore, as Modi took oath on Monday, sweets were distributed at the entry point of the town, and every lane was illuminated, exuding a festive mood.

Sudhir Joshi, who studied with Modi in school, is now a doctor at a clinic in Vadnagar. He says as a school student Modi always had the qualities of a leader, and had won the class monitor election by delivering an impressive speech to convince the students of the B N High School—where he studied—to vote for him.

“He came and told me one day that he had filled the form to contest the election. I was a bit scared initially, but he was convinced, and he did win the elections,” recalled Joshi, adding that after becoming the chief minister, Modi invited Joshi and his family for dinner at the chief minister’s bungalow, and whenever Joshi was in Gandhinagar he visited his childhood friend.

Their teacher H C Patel too had words of praise for Modi. “He was a sincere student in school way back in 1965, but he ensured that on Sundays he would attend the Shakhas organised by the RSS at the village ground, even if there were extra classes in school,” he said.

Patel recollected that though Modi had hardly been able to visit the town after becoming chief minister, he had ensured that the village was not deprived of any facility in comparison to neighbouring towns. As a result, it now boasts of a CBSE school, a medical college and a technical institute.

Another childhood friend, Shyamal Modi, who continues to stay in the same house just next door to where the prime minister once lived, said one of their favourite games as children was kabaddi.

He too said if people from Vadnagar visited Gandhinagar after Modi had become chief minister, he would take time out of his busy schedule to meet them.

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