Modi and Vaghela on fast track politics in GujaratSeptember 16th, 2011 - 9:46 pm ICT by IANS
Gandhinagar, Sep 16 (IANS) The Gujarat government is pulling out all stops to make Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day fast beginning in Ahmedabad Saturday a huge success even as his bete noir, Shankersinh Vaghela of the Congress is getting ready to settle on the pavement outside Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram here for a similar exercise.
Modi’s fast is part of his ‘mission sadbhavana’ after what his party claims is the clean chit given by the Supreme Court to him in the charges of conspiracy preferred by Zakia Jaffri, widow of late Congress MP Ehsan Jaffri who perished among the 69 people in the massacre at Gulberg Housing Society in Ahmedabad in the communal rioting that followed the 2002 Godhra train carnage. “It (the fast) is for communal and social harmony,” Modi stated announcing his decision.
“A pack of lies,” countered Vaghela, who will be joined by two party leaders - Gujarat Congress chief Arjun Modvadia and leader of the opposition Shaktisinh Gohil - during the fast. The Congress leaders maintain that the Supreme Court has given no clean chit to Modi and “it is this pretentiousness, lies and corruption on his part and in his governance that we are fasting to expose”.
Meanwhile, the pastoralists - the Maldhari Ekta Samiti - which has already served an ultimatum to the Modi government will fast to protest cow slaughter. Praful Vaghela, whose son and nephew, students of the Asaram Gurukul, were found mysteriously killed leading to large scale protests and violence in Ahmedabad in 2008, will also be on fast, as will be members of the Gandhi sena out to counter the Modi fast.
Jagrutiben Pandya, wife of slain BJP leader Haren Pandya, said Friday that Chief Minister Narendra Modi has shown no sadbhavana (goodwill) towards Haren’s family. “I will garland Haren’s statue in Ahmedabad at 11.30 a.m. and will then go to the chief minister to remind him,” she added.
Mallika Sarabhai, daughter of well-known space scientist late Vikram Sarabhai who is an activist in her own right, has announced that she will be feeding slum children on all the three days to voice her disgust at Modi’s “gimmickry”.
Social activists Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah expressed ire over the “tamasha” by Modi and the Congress. “Modi has no business spending the tax payers money and the administration’s time and energy in such mindless gimmickry. If he is fasting as an individual then he or his party BJP should bear all the expenses from their account,” Shah stated.
Though initially the Gujarat chief minister was supposed to fast at the Mahatma mandir in the state capital here, the venue was changed to the Gujarat University’s plush convention hall in Ahmedabad. The Indian Drug manufacturers who had booked the convention centre five months in advance for an international exhibition ‘Pharmac India 2011′ coinciding with the three days of Modi’s fast, were unceremoniously sent packing and have now shifted venue to the Mahatma mandir. The university had collected a rent of Rs.28 lakh from Pharmac. “Since the chief minister is doing it for peace and amity, we are not charging anything for it,” Vice-Chancellor Parimal trivedi went on record to state.
Both the government and the party are leaving no stone unturned to make the event a great success. Party leaders, however, are reticent to speak on record about the expenses involved. However, corporators of the BJP-ruled Surat Municipal Corporation who were to leave on a tour have been directed to stay put as there is likely to be largescale movement of people to be taken to the fast venue.
A five-tier security ring is being put in place for the chief minister and the venue of the fast has been ringed with cops and turned into a fortress. Ahmedabad is already reeling under a terrorist threat and the fast is expected to lead to the weaning away of a lot of policemen for VVIP security duty, said a top police officer.
However, DGP Chittranjan Singh said that since the chief minister has Z-plus security, 36 NSG commandoes will be on round-the-clock duty. According to one estimate, about 1,000 policemen, both in uniform as well as in plain clothes, are being deployed in and around the chief minister’s fast venue. Top BJP leaders including L.K. Advani, Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shanker Prasad are among those slated to attend, besides the chief ministers from BJP-ruled states.
If Modi’s fast is largely seen as a political move being undertaken with the twin political objectives of the 2012 Vidhan Sabha elections in Gujarat and the 2014 general elections in his sights, the Congress led by Vaghela, who has recently been made the chairman of the Gujarat Congress election committee, has joined battle with the same objective in mind. “With Vaghela brought onto the scene, Modi will no longer have a free run in Gujarat as has happened on previous occasions,” said a political analyst.
In fact, Vaghela had already announced that the Congress will launch its Vidhan Sabha election campaign in the state from Kutch on Sep 29 since the region represents the “nadir of corruption in Modi’s governance”.
- Modi's fast: BJP top brass to attend; Modi condemns communalism - Sep 17, 2011
- When Modi changed fast venue - Sep 16, 2011
- Top Gujarat Congress leaders slam Modi, announce satyagraha - Sep 15, 2011
- Discord on Day 2: Protesters detained as Modi fasts - Sep 18, 2011
- Vaghela to counter Modi fast - Sep 14, 2011
- Fast to disagree! Modi, Congress begin parallel fasts - Sep 17, 2011
- Five-tier security around Modi fast venue - Sep 16, 2011
- Vaghela ends fast, says Modi government betrayed trust - Sep 20, 2011
- Congress members harming party prospects in Gujarat: Shastri - Jul 31, 2012
- Contrasting styles mark Modi, Vaghela fasts - Sep 18, 2011
- Haren Pandya's widow seeks Advani's intervention - Aug 31, 2011
- Modi fasts again, Congress dismissive - Oct 16, 2011
- Modi's fast biggest political stunt of the decade: Congress - Sep 21, 2011
- Case against Modi should be closed: BJP - Feb 11, 2012
- Haren Pandya's sisters to approach PM for justice - Sep 02, 2011
Tags: clean chit, congress leaders, cow slaughter, gandhinagar, godhra train, gohil, gujarat government, gurukul, haren pandya, housing society, leader of the opposition, mahatma gandhi, narendra modi, pastoralists, sabarmati, sadbhavana, social harmony, space scientist, track politics, vaghela