Welcome to air-conditioned fasting Venue free for Modi's cause

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By BASANT RAWAT
  • Published 15.09.11
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A bomb disposal squad van is parked outside the convention centre that is expected to host Modi’s fast. Picture by Ajit Solanki

Ahmedabad, Sept. 14: If fasting is cool now, Narendra Modi has the option to make it cooler.

A centrally air-conditioned convention centre in Ahmedabad has been picked as the venue for the Gujarat chief minister’s three-day fast from Saturday to foster “harmony and brotherhood”.

Modi would not have to sweat it out to pay for using the sprawling venue owned by Gujarat University either.

Considering how “noble” the cause is, the “privileged” university has decided to waive the fee of Rs 15 lakh that it usually charges other users for three days at the rate of Rs 5 lakh a day.

Vice-chancellor Parimal Trivedi explained why the fee is being waived for what is being considered as Modi’s platform to launch himself onto the national stage.

“We are proud and privileged to support him in his noble endeavour for which Modi is inviting every body. Who does not want peace and harmony?” Trivedi asked.

The convention centre, which is designed to host business meetings and exhibitions, can accommodate 5,000 people.

The same generosity was not apparently extended to the Congress when it had sought the venue for a programme. University syndicate member Manish Doshi, who is also a Congress spokesperson, has threatened to protest against what he called the “political misuse” of the university’s convention centre. Doshi said he was told earlier that the centre was not meant to host political activities.

The fast is already attracting labels such as “five-star” satyagraha. Although the convention centre is centrally air-conditioned, sources said, table fans and water coolers are also being kept on standby.

Since the maximum temperature during the fast days has been forecast around a comfortable 32 degrees Celsius, Modi, who weighs around 90kg, has the option of sacrificing creature comforts like air-conditioning and coolers.

A 90kg person could be expected to lose about 1.5kg to 3kg in three days if fluids alone are taken, but actual loss is likely to vary across individuals, said Anoop Misra, a senior endocrinologist in New Delhi.

Misra said routine fluid loss from the body is likely to be lower in an air-conditioned environment than in the open. The actual fluid loss whether in the open or inside a hall is determined by factors such as temperature and humidity.

Modi appears to be partial towards Gujarat University property when it comes to public spectacles. A few years ago, when he chose to confront the Centre on the Narmada dam and launched a fast, the varsity’s ground was picked. Even on the open ground, cooling facilities were ensured.

Today, competitive fasting also entered the arena with the Congress deciding to field former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela, considered Modi’s political guru. Vaghela, now with the Congress, will go on a three-day fast, coinciding with Modi’s fast, at Gandhi ashram.

BJP cautious

The BJP today stressed that it would not project anyone as its prime ministerial candidate before the 2014 polls and described Modi as “an able chief minister”.

Party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: “Our national president categorically stated that there is no question as of now to declare anyone as the PM candidate right away. We have no dearth of leaders and, therefore, to infer that we have no candidate is not right.”

The reference to Modi as “an able chief minister” came against the backdrop of a US report, which offers reading material for legislators and does not reflect American policy position, that praised governance in Gujarat.