Fast is not aimed at wooing any particular community, Modi s
Ahmedabad: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi yesterday said his fast was not aimed at wooing "any particular community" even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called him a "national figure" who could play a bigger political role.
Speaking at the Gujarat University where his three-day hunger strike for communal amity began on Saturday, Modi reiterated that people had "suffered immense pain" during the 2002 communal riots that left about 1,000 people dead, mainly Muslims.
But he insisted he was not wooing "any particular community or religion" — a clear reference to Muslims.
"Sadbhavna Mission is not about any particular community. It is about the people of Gujarat," Modi said on the second day of his fast.
"Gujarat has suffered immense pain. I empathise with the families that have suffered. I can still feel the pain," Modi said in an address to those thronging the venue. "The mission is to unite, not divide. Gujarat is my family, the [60 million] Gujaratis' happiness and grief, dreams and aspirations are mine."
He cited the achievements of his 10-year reign as "peace, unity and harmony".
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, meanwhile, said Modi was a national figure and could prove himself if he gets a larger mandate, hinting at a possible role for him in central politics.
"He is a national figure. Let us not forget, he is a successful chief minister. At the same time, he is the demand of people from all over the country," Javadekar said.
"If he gets a different mandate, he will prove himself then too," he said.
The fast was meanwhile criticised by Congress as well as social activists and some victims of the 2002 riots. Former Gujarat chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela and state Congress leader Arjun Modvadia continued their fast at Mahatama Gandhi's ashram in Sabarmati. Vaghela said that if Modi regretted his actions, he should resign.
Meanwhile protests were held at Naroda Patiya, where seveal Muslims were massacred in 2002. Several activists including Mallika Sarabhai and Mukul Sinha were detained.