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December 13 2019
Narendra Modi fasts for communal harmony, Vaghela in protest
16 September 2011

Narendra Modi is 61 today. And he is celebrating his birthday with a three-day fast for communal harmony at the Gujarat university exhibition hall. Mr Modi reached the airconditioned hall at 10 am and has begun his fast.
 
As the Gujarat Chief Minister arrived, he was greeted by the leaders gathered there. He then lighted a ceremonial lamp and was tied a turban. Chants of Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram could be heard in the background. 

"I thank everyone for extending their support to Gujarat's Sadbhavna mission," Mr Modi said addressing the gathering. "Gujarat's development is being discussed across the India and world," he added.

Before the grand show began, the Gujarat Chief Minister met his mother Narmada Bai for birthday blessings. Dressed in a blue kurta, Modi touched his mother's feet, she gave him a book and they spent some moments with her sitting on a traditional swing.

 
Then he tweeted, "On my way to the venue of fast for #Sadbhavana Mission. Join the Prayer for Togetherness, in person or online."
 
From six km away, come some more birthday wishes. Congress veteran and Modi's one-time RSS colleague Shankarsinh Vaghela is fasting too - in protest against Mr Modi's fast. Mr Vaghela, surrounded by Congressmen all in Gandhi caps, has begun his fast at the Gandhi Ashram an hour before Mr Modi's. He will end two hours after Mr Modi does and has sent across a message - "I wish Mr Modi happy birthday and hope he will get sadbuddhi (better sense)."
 
Mr Vaghela's less spectacular counter-show is unlikely to dent Mr Modi's enthusiasm. The big university hall is fast filling up, top BJP leaders have begun arriving - LK Advani is there - and there is song and music.
 
The last week has been defining for the Gujarat Chief Minister. The Supreme Court transferred a Gujarat-riots-related case to a lower court in the state and  Narendra Modi tweeted, "God is Great". Suddenly, from a US think tank to BJP patriarch LK Advani, there was talk about Narendra Modi, possible future Prime Minister.
 
A canny Modi has quickly seized upon the opportunity to market Brand Modi. Gujarat and Modi shining is the message and the tone has changed to a softer, almost apologetic one as the Chief Minister wrote two open letters to the people of his state. The second, written a day before he turned 61, said, "I am grateful to all who pointed out my genuine mistakes during last 10 years...Gujarat has overcome the evil of communalism...The Pain of each citizen is my own pain."
 
Modi's birthday fast is anything but austere. The state machinery is out in frenetic preparation - Rs. 5 lakhs a day for the airconditioned university hall, tight security, 6000 chairs for those who will watch Mr Modi fast on a very large stage. There is overt political support that Modi shall wear on his sleeve - from within the party as other top leaders, Advani, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj share his call, settling the issue of the BJP's firm backing.
 
And from allies that have thrown their weight behind Mr Modi. Nitish Kumar of the JD(U), not known to love Mr Modi, may not be in Ahmedabad to wish him a Happy Birthday, but Parkash Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal leaders will be there and J Jayalalithaa is sending two senior AIADMK men. The participation of these parties is being showcased as Mr Modi's wider political acceptance.
 
Gujarat BJP spokesman Vijay Rupani says, "Narendra Modi's image as a popular leader is getting further impetus. The entire country knew about his capabilities, now the world is getting aware."
 
That image makeover is important for Modi. One that has been in the making over the past few years. As the man of the moment he now figures on the latest edition of Society magazine, talking politics and poetry. The international media has quickly taken note.
 
As he begins his fast at 10 am today, Modi will attempt to obliterate the one serious blemish of his political career - the 2002 Gujarat Riots. To do this he is expected to link two isolated events - escaping the Supreme Court's indictment in the Zakia Jafri Gujarat riots case and the US Congressional panel report that talks of him as a future prime ministerial candidate.
 












Narendra Modi is 61 today. And he is celebrating his birthday with a three-day fast for communal harmony at the Gujarat university exhibition hall. Mr Modi reached the airconditioned hall at 10 am and has begun his fast.
 
As the Gujarat Chief Minister arrived, he was greeted by the leaders gathered there. He then lighted a ceremonial lamp and was tied a turban. Chants of Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram could be heard in the background. 

"I thank everyone for extending their support to Gujarat's Sadbhavna mission," Mr Modi said addressing the gathering. "Gujarat's development is being discussed across the India and world," he added.

Before the grand show began, the Gujarat Chief Minister met his mother Narmada Bai for birthday blessings. Dressed in a blue kurta, Modi touched his mother's feet, she gave him a book and they spent some moments with her sitting on a traditional swing.
 
Then he tweeted, "On my way to the venue of fast for #Sadbhavana Mission. Join the Prayer for Togetherness, in person or online."
 
From six km away, come some more birthday wishes. Congress veteran and Modi's one-time RSS colleague Shankarsinh Vaghela is fasting too - in protest against Mr Modi's fast. Mr Vaghela, surrounded by Congressmen all in Gandhi caps, has begun his fast at the Gandhi Ashram an hour before Mr Modi's. He will end two hours after Mr Modi does and has sent across a message - "I wish Mr Modi happy birthday and hope he will get sadbuddhi (better sense)."
 
Mr Vaghela's less spectacular counter-show is unlikely to dent Mr Modi's enthusiasm. The big university hall is fast filling up, top BJP leaders have begun arriving - LK Advani is there - and there is song and music.
 
The last week has been defining for the Gujarat Chief Minister. The Supreme Court transferred a Gujarat-riots-related case to a lower court in the state and  Narendra Modi tweeted, "God is Great". Suddenly, from a US think tank to BJP patriarch LK Advani, there was talk about Narendra Modi, possible future Prime Minister.
 
A canny Modi has quickly seized upon the opportunity to market Brand Modi. Gujarat and Modi shining is the message and the tone has changed to a softer, almost apologetic one as the Chief Minister wrote two open letters to the people of his state. The second, written a day before he turned 61, said, "I am grateful to all who pointed out my genuine mistakes during last 10 years...Gujarat has overcome the evil of communalism...The Pain of each citizen is my own pain."
 
Modi's birthday fast is anything but austere. The state machinery is out in frenetic preparation - Rs. 5 lakhs a day for the airconditioned university hall, tight security, 6000 chairs for those who will watch Mr Modi fast on a very large stage. There is overt political support that Modi shall wear on his sleeve - from within the party as other top leaders, Advani, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj share his call, settling the issue of the BJP's firm backing.
 
And from allies that have thrown their weight behind Mr Modi. Nitish Kumar of the JD(U), not known to love Mr Modi, may not be in Ahmedabad to wish him a Happy Birthday, but Parkash Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal leaders will be there and J Jayalalithaa is sending two senior AIADMK men. The participation of these parties is being showcased as Mr Modi's wider political acceptance.
 
Gujarat BJP spokesman Vijay Rupani says, "Narendra Modi's image as a popular leader is getting further impetus. The entire country knew about his capabilities, now the world is getting aware."
 
That image makeover is important for Modi. One that has been in the making over the past few years. As the man of the moment he now figures on the latest edition of Society magazine, talking politics and poetry. The international media has quickly taken note.
 
As he begins his fast at 10 am today, Modi will attempt to obliterate the one serious blemish of his political career - the 2002 Gujarat Riots. To do this he is expected to link two isolated events - escaping the Supreme Court's indictment in the Zakia Jafri Gujarat riots case and the US Congressional panel report that talks of him as a future prime ministerial candidate.
 













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