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‘Fearless’ Modi oils rath again

Ahmedabad, Sept. 27: Narendra Modi will not be stopped in his rath tracks. Undeterred by the temple strike in Gandhinagar, the BJP has decided to go ahead with the fourth phase of its Gaurav Yatra, which is to roll from Ambaji on October 5.

Despite the threat perception, the chief minister’s security will not be upgraded. No additional security arrangements will be made for the fourth phase, Jayanti Barot, the convener for the yatra, said.

Barot said he would not like to tighten security cover as it would defeat the very purpose of the yatra, meant to be a mass-contact programme. Modi is a man of the masses who loves to mingle with the people, pointed out Barot. Security agencies, he said, had suggested that the rath be bullet-proof, but the proposal was shot down by the chief minister.

The fourth phase of the yatra was to begin on September 28 but was postponed after the attack at the Swaminarayan temple in the high-security zone of the state capital on September 24.

This phase of the yatra will start from Ambaji temple in north Gujarat and cover 11 Assembly constituencies in north Gujarat and Suarashtra.

Earlier, enthused by the overwhelming support it received, the BJP had announced that Modi and the Gujarat BJP chief will tour the state every week in the hi-tech Swaraj Mazda rath. However, today, Barot said this phase will last only two days — October 5 and 6 — as the Navratri festival begins on October 7. He added that the fifth phase will begin only after Dussehra (October 15).

Firebrand BJP leader Uma Bharti and party national general secretary Anita Arya are expected to be present to flag off the fourth phase of the yatra.

Even as the BJP today announced the date for the fourth phase, Gujarat Congress chief Shankersinh Vaghela attacked the ruling party, claiming that the state intelligence department had alerted the government about a possible terrorist strike. To substantiate his claim, Vaghela circulated two “secret” documents warning the government of possible terrorist strikes after the post-Godhra violence.

The chief minister had yesterday denied that the state government was given any specific information about militants targeting Gujarat.

Tearing Modi’s claim apart, Vaghela showed an official letter dated April 18, 2002, in which the intelligence department has specifically said places of worship of different communities have become vulnerable.

The letter was signed by R.B. Srikumar, additional DGP (intelligence). who was recently transferred after Modi’s “tape controversy”.

Vaghela insinuated that, while on the one hand the BJP was demanding a ban on madarsas, some of its leaders like Mukesh Zaveri, were actually helping madarsas in bordering places like Kutch to pursue “questionable” activities by funding them.

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