Coimbatore, Aug. 1: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi did not agree that the Swaminarayan temple and subsequent developments were offshoots of the communal riots in Gujarat.
“What do you think of the attack on the Indian Parliament'” he asked. “This (terrorism) is a threat to humanity, to the country.”
Modi, who was in the textile town to address a rally of the state BJP, however, traced the roots of recent terrorist attacks in Gujarat to that state being targeted by Pakistan, through the “racket of fake currency, duplicate revenue stamps and the drug mafia”.
Gujarat had become the third area of target of “covert terrorism” after militants had been “defeated” in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, Modi argued.
The more recent random bomb blasts in buses were “another form of terrorism”, he said.
Modi pointed out that this was not his first visit to the state, when it was pointed out that some political parties and organisations had objected to his visit to Coimbatore, which had witnessed serial blasts in 1998, fearing that it could trigger a Gujarat-type communal situation in Tamil Nadu.
“Is it not absurd that the daughter of Italy (Congress chief Sonia Gandhi) can move anywhere, but a son of India cannot move'” he asked, referring to the Tamil Nadu Congress’ objection.
Modi said he “respected” Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa for her “boldness” and added that only “time will tell” whether his mediation would be required to clinch an alliance between the BJP and the ADMK in Tamil Nadu for the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.
The Gujarat chief minister is scheduled to call on Kanchi Sankaracharya Swami Jayendra Saraswati tomorrow at Kancheepuram on his way back to Ahmedabad through Chennai. He disclosed that he would be going to Geneva in the third week of August to bring the ashes of the late “great revolutionary”, Shamji Krishna Verma, a close associate of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Veer Savarkar.
In his opening remarks, Modi emphasised on the development agenda he has set before Gujarat — to achieve the 10.20 per cent growth rate expected of it by the Planning Commission in the next five-year plan.
Modi added that he wanted Godhra and post-Godhra to be put behind. “We are now in the second half of 2003 and let us go ahead,” he said.
Nothing like Godhra and its fallout should ever happen again anywhere in the world, Modi said. The Gujarat government is for “for five crore Gujaratis and we do not allow any minority-majority division,” he contended.
The chief minister unveiled the state government’s plans to organise a “very big global event” from September 25 to October 5, which would include NRIs and business leaders from all over the world.
The event would open at Ahmedabad and would be followed by a three-day international business meet there on September 28-30. The last even would be in Kutch on October 4, where an international seminar on disaster management would be held, he said.
The global meet would coincide with Navratri days, a unique cultural treat in Gujarat, he added. “We thus want to combine trade and tradition.”
With this as the focus and the development measures already initiated in Gujarat, “we are now becoming the gateway of prosperity of the country”, claimed the chief minister. He disagreed with the view that despite Gujarat’s high rate of economic growth, communal relations had been strained. “This is an absolutely wrong perception you have,” he told the questioner.