Radhanpur, Oct. 6: Kicking off the last leg of the Gaurav Yatra from Patan district this morning, Narendra Modi held forth on “Mian Musharraf”, reminding his audience that he was promoting terrorism, he had raised the Gujarat riots at the UN and dubbed the violence “Hindu extremism”.
Braving the sweltering heat, a large number of villagers in this parched corner of Gujarat heard Modi’s diatribe and cheered the loudest when he spoke passionately about the problem of terrorism and other international concerns — issues certainly not within the purview of a chief minister.
Ironically, they seemed sceptical when he tried to address local issues, particularly water scarcity. Modi said he was aware of their hardship and promised Narmada water within three months.
The fire-spewing chief minister seems to have become a victim of his own rhetoric. Undoubtedly an ambitious politician, Modi’s ego has been inflated with leaders like Ramdas Aggrawal, the BJP’s Gujarat in-charge, declaring that the chief minister has emerged a national leader, unmindful of his diabolic image outside.
A clique of senior BJP leaders, presently close to Modi, has been doing their best to project him as a tall national figure. “Chhote Sardar”, “best chief minister” and “prime ministerial material” are some of the epithets the chief minister has picked up since the riots broke out in Gujarat earlier this year.
Some of the slogans raised during the Gaurav Yatra also point to the process of lionising and glorifying Modi. “Desh ka neta kaisa ho, Narendra Modi jaisa ho (How should a national leader be' He should be like Narendra Modi),” said one. Another one went like: “Dekho dekho kaun aya, Gujarat ka sher aya (Look who has come, the lion of Gujarat has come).”
Blaming Pakistan for the Swaminarayan temple attack, Modi called for a national debate on terrorism while addressing reporters this morning. “We are willing to take a lead but the Congress will have to play a responsible role,” he said.
But as his rath rolled from Kamboi to Sihori to Radhanpur on the day he completed one year as chief minister, Modi perhaps realised that people would finally judge him on his performance at home. He began promising water, greenery, a prosperous and safe Gujarat.
What the Congress could not do in 45 years, the BJP government had achieved in four-and-a-half years, he said. “That is why when I say that you will get Narmada water in three months, you trust me,” he exhorted, sensing the scepticism.
To emphasise his concern for north Gujarat and what he has done for the region since taking over on October 7 last year, he said: “I’m concerned about the problem of water scarcity in this region. That is why the first file I had signed on my first day as chief minister was relating to a Rs 2,500 crore water project to provide water to north Gujarat.”
Two persons were injured in Dabhoi town when police opened fired to disperse a mob that set fire to some shops this afternoon.
Reports said trouble started when some youth began raising a wall around a mausoleum for which permission had not yet been received. After the police stopped them, an angry mob gathered and torched a few shops. The police had to open fire to disperse them.