Ahmedabad: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that his Sadbhavna fast is about Gujarat and not about his ambitions of becoming India's Prime Minister. "Every chief minister has a national role," Modi said in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN on the first day of his three-day fast.
He also said that he does not work on communal lines, but for the progress of the his state. "My work is to do something good on Earth, it is for others to give it words," Modi said.
When asked if he should take moral responsibility of the 2002 Godhra riots, Modi said that there was no question of taking any moral responsibility. "What moral responsibility for riots am I being asked to take? My government did its best," Modi said.
Talking about Gujarat's development model, Modi said, "I want to tell the world that 'Sabka saath sabka vikas' is the way of development."
Talking about the development in Gujarat over the years, Modi said, "Gujarat has got a name in development. I have worked for development of all. I have given this an ideological base."
No disharmony, Gujarat growing unitedly: Modi
On his 62nd birthday on Saturday, Gurjarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi began his 72-hour fast in Ahmedabad. Highlighting growth, development and communal harmony that Gujarat has achieved in his 10-year-long reign, Modi said Gujarat's growth model should be emulated at the national level.
Modi started the day by seeking his mother's blessings. As the Gujarat Chief Minister made a pitch for the national stage, top BJP leaders also turned up, but Modi said beginning of the fast has nothing to do with his birthday.
"I have never celebrated my birthday. This is the only day of the year I don't meet anyone, I don't talk to anyone, I don't celebrate my birthday. But because Saturday and Sunday was convenient, that's why I chose this day, this has got nothing to do with my birthday," said Modi as he began his fast.
The Chief Minister said that he shares the suffering of riot victims, but he defended his government's role in 2002, and said that the government acted with strength and strictness.
"I have suffeered in my heart for those who suffered and were victims of the 2002 riots. We acted with power and toughness to get life back in order," said Modi.
He also assured people of equity and justice.
"I want to assure the country and all communities that we will not go below the parameters of humanity. Every second of my life is devoted to the people of the country," said Modi.
On the first day of his fast, Modi reminded people about the days of communal disharmony in 1990s and said that the development has played a key role to overcome the disharmony.
"I remember 1980 and 90s, when there was complete communal disharmony. On every small discord, there used to be violence and curfew. When a child was born he/she learnt the word 'curfew' before learning 'mummy and papa'," said Modi.
"Look at the situation now. 10 years later, there is no sign of disharmony. Gujarat has realised the strength of brotherhood. And this learning has not come through any preaching or advice, but through the fruits of development. Our growth has assured us that unity is our strength," he added.
Modi shared the stage with senior BJP leaders like LK Advani, Arun Jaitely, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Sahanawaz Hussain, Smriti Irani and Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Prem Kumar Dhumal.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, whose party Shiromani Akali Dal is a key member of the BJP-led NDA, was also present.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha of AIADMK, which is not even part of the NDA, has sent her representatives in support of Modi.
Moved by the response to his fast, Modi tweeted saying, "Deeply moved by the response towards Sadbhavana Mission, both at the venue and through other mediums. A day worth remembering forever!"
Grand preparations have been made for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's three-day fast for peace and harmony in Ahmedabad, with an estimate of over Rs 50 lakh to be spent over the next three days.
Earlier, the Gujarat Congress unit too begun its counter-fast at the Sabarmati Ashram on Saturday, calling it a Satyagraha.
Modi cites Gujarat growth tale
Hailing the strides made by Gujarat, Modi said he wanted the country to follow the Gujarat model. Modi said," The country and the world is talking about the development of Gujarat."
Invoking a sense of Gujarati pride, Modi said that Gujarat has been propped up on the world map of growth and development, thanks to the perseverance of its people.
"After the Gujarat earthquake, people started to feel that Gujarat will never grow again. But Gujarat has bounced back and is a developed state. People said nobody will invest in Gujarat, but we overcame that difficulty and reached new heights of development," he added.
Calling himself a leader of 6 crore Gujaratis, Modi said that the state has put its undeveloped and unstable past behind and managed to remain united even after the Akshardham attack.
"Gujarat has come together for the development. When Akshardham was attacked, the whole country believed that Gujarat will be divided. We gave an example of peace, harmony after the Akshardham attack," said Modi.
Congress slams Modi
Congress leaders Shankersinh Vaghela and Arjun Modhwadia also began their fast earlier on Saturday and slammed Modi for wasting the taxpayers' money.
"What is the need for Modi to spend taxpayers' money to hold a lavish fast? He could have held his fast at the CM's residence as well. The Modi government is corrupt, and is facing many corruption allegations," he said.
GPCC President Arjun Modhwadia on Saturday said that Modi is wasting the taxpayers' money for his fast.
"If Narendra Modi really wants to show 'sadbhavna', he must deliver good governance. The fast is a show off at the cost of people's money," he said.
The BJP, meanwhile, hailed Modi as a national leader, accepted both at Gujarat and Delhi.
"Modi's letter is a sign of forgetting and forgiving and moving on from the past. It's a very sober occasion. It's not that Modi is not the national leader being the CM of Gujarat. There is no new definition required for him. His leadership is accepted at Delhi and Gujarat both. He is a popular man, it's a great occasion that his colleagues and friends from NDA are here," said BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
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