Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi began his second round of ‘Sadbhavana Mission' on Sunday, observing a daylong fast at this famous temple town.
The pattern was the same as during the first round, when he observed fast for three days in Ahmedabad from September 17, his birthday — people from all walks of life, especially religious heads, came to greet Mr. Modi and thousands assembled at the pandal erected for the purpose.
The Congress launched a parallel fast, as part of what was billed as ‘Satkarm Mission,' observed by Jamnagar Lok Sabha member Vikram Madam.
In Ahmedabad too, Congress State president Arjun Modhvadia and Congress campaign committee chief Shankarsinh Waghela had fasted to counter Mr. Modi.
This small temple town, with a population of 33,000, saw an equal number of outsiders pour in to support Mr. Modi and the fasting Congress leaders.
Mr. Modi, who arrived here in the morning, drove down to the famous Dwarkadheesh temple and offered prayers. Thereafter, he opened an exhibition, which the Information Department organised to showcase the State's development, before reaching the venue.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Modi lashed out at Gujarat's “enemies,” who refused to see the unparalleled growth the State had achieved in the past decade because of “peace and unity” among all sections. He advised the people to “ignore” such elements because they would always refuse to see reason, their only aim being to “defame” Gujarat.
Mr. Modi said he was not trying to make any political statement or derive any political mileage through his fast. “By launching ‘Sadbhavana Mission,' I only want to send out a message to those who always try to defame Gujarat: Gujarat believes in brotherhood and unity.” Be it Pakistan or Kashmir, Gujarat was among the first to rush humanitarian aid when they were hit by the earthquake, he said.
Again Mr. Modi referred to the “vote bank” politics of the Congress, the “fragile” communal and law and order situation that had prevailed in the State before he took over and the “recognition” the State earned for its “development model” in the country and even abroad.
Gujarat, he said, never believed in heaping abuse on its critics but it was committed to giving a stern reply by posting more progress and development.