Ahmedabad, Aug. 29: The Modi government today decided to use force and appeal to ensure a smooth start to the Gaurav rath yatra on September 3 in the face of threat of resistance from the Kshatriya community in Phagvel, the kickoff point.
The government decided to send 10 companies of paramilitary forces to Phagvel village in Kheda district. At the same time, yatra convener, Jayanti Barot appealed to the Kshatriya community loyal to Shankersinh Vaghela to reschedule its programme to felicitate the state Congress president.
Tension has built up in Phagvel with the Bhathi Sena threatening to block the Gaurav rath. Vaghela has been invited to the village to hoist a flag at the Bhathiji temple on September 3 after night-long kirtan.
While Kshatriya leaders claimed that Vaghela’s programme was chalked out much before Modi’s, Barot said the Congress chief decided to go 10 days after the yatra was announced.
He alleged that Vaghela was adopting a confrontationist stance as the Congress does not want peace and harmony in the state.
Vaghela is steadfast on his programme. “I had promised them long back that I will come to the village after I become state Congress president. The villagers wanted to felicitate me on my appointment and there is no politics involved. It is just a community affair. It so happened that they have planned the function on the day Modi is to launch the Gaurav Yatra, which the villagers are determined to block,” he told The Telegraph. The Congress is no way involved, he clarified.
The Kshatriya leader said he will urge the villagers to change the programme. But if they do not change, “I will attend the function”, he added. Phagvel falls under the Congress state president’s Lok Sabha constituency.
BJP general secretary Rajnath Singh and central party leader in charge of Gujarat Ramdas Aggrawal will jointly flag off the Gaurav Yatra, which will be led by the chief minister and BJP state president Rajendrasinh Rana.
As of now, the yatra will be taken out only on weekends. The rath will cover all 182 Assembly segments — two districts and at least 6 Assembly segments every day.
There will be several meetings during the day, culminating in a large public meeting in the evening. Bhupendra Amin, a trusted Modi lieutenant, says he hit upon the idea of the yatra after several teams and parties visited Gujarat after the Godhra carnage.
“All of them blamed Gujaratis. They criticised us and hurt our pride. Gaurav Yatra is an answer to the nation that we are dignified and cultured people. Those hurting our pride should lay off.”
Not only the Congress, but liberal, Gandhians and independent intellectuals have ridiculed “Modi’s audacity to talk about Gujaratis’ pride”.
The Gujarat Lok Sangharsh Samiti said: “It should instead take out a yatra in the form of repentance for what happened in the state. There is nothing to feel proud of, there is nothing to glorify.”