The three-day “Sadbhavana Mission” fast Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had held in Ahmedabad last September “to spread peace, unity and harmony” cost the State exchequer Rs.1.57 crore.
This information was given — based on inputs provided by various departments of the State government — by principal secretary to the Governor, Arvind Joshi.
Mahagujarat Janata Party's State unit president Gordhan Jhadafiya, through a letter to Governor Kamala Beniwal, had demanded to know the “burden” Mr. Modi's “political gimmick” to earn mileage in the Assembly elections had caused to the State exchequer.
Mr. Joshi's letter to him dated March 22 was released by Mr. Jhadafiya on Saturday. It was the first time any figure had been released officially in connection with the expenses made from the State exchequer for hosting Mr. Modi's controversial fast at the sprawling centrally air-conditioned Gujarat University convention centre in September, last year.
State officials said the government organised Mr. Modi's fast at the “direction” of the Central government. Mr. Joshi's letter quoted the State government claiming various Central Ministries had been issuing “instructions” from time to time to organise programmes for national unity and strengthening communal harmony in the country. It, however, did not quote any “instruction” from the Centre to that effect.
Mr. Joshi said the financial information provided by the government to Raj Bhavan was “tentative.” The State government claimed the Gujarat University was not made to suffer any financial losses as alleged. The University provides the convention centre on rent for organising various programmes and accordingly it was hired for five days to hold the fast, for which the State's Roads and Buildings department had paid the full rent of Rs. 30 lakh. It said various State departments were involved in organising the fast, the highest expenditure for which was Rs. 86.81 lakh made by the roads and buildings department, followed by Rs. 64.34 lakh by the State's Information and Broadcasting department, Rs. 4.97 lakh by the State's Sports, Youth and Cultural Activities department, Rs.86,832 by the Industries and Mines department, Rs.46,800 by the Narmada Water Supply and Water Resources department and only Rs. 2,434 by the General Administration department.