Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi will began his three-day 'sadbhavana' fast in Ahmedabad today. Modi reached the fast venue at around 10 am, where senior party leader LK Advani and Arun Jaitley were also present. Before reaching the fast venue Modi went to his mother to take her blessings.
The fast is poised to be a grand affair with the BJP state government making all arrangements, including five-tier security, for the event that will see the BJP top brass attending. AIADMK supremo and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa has extended her support by sending two of her ministers.
However, no one from ally Janata Dal-United (JD-U) is likely to attend. JD-U leader and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, who relies substantially on Muslim votes, has often distanced himself from Modi who has been accused of failing to curtail anti-Muslim riots in the state nine years ago.
BJP leaders attending the fast will include party patriarch LK Advani, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, general secretaries Ravi Shankar Prasad and Vijay Goel, former party chief Rajnath Singh and spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain.
Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal of the SAD, an ally of the BJP, will fly with Advani. Another ally, the Shiv Sena, is also expected to send a key leader.
Modi's decision to fast for "harmony" followed the Supreme Court's decision to send back a 2002 riots case to the trial court.
The venue of Modi's fast in Ahmedabad.
Meanwhile, Modi, in a late evening statement, expressed gratitude to all those who had pointed out his "genuine mistakes" during the past 10 years.
An official press release, issued on the eve of his three-day fast, stated that the chief minister has said that "India and Gujarat have realized that casteism and communal fanaticism does not serve anybody. Gujarat has risen over the distortions in society and national life to march on to the path of progress, peace, unity, harmony and brotherhood."Will 'sadbhavana' fast clean Modi's image?
"..no State, society or individual can claim to be perfect. I am grateful to all those who pointed out my genuine mistakes during last 10 years. I seek your blessings to serve the people with devotion free from all human shortcomings."
Modi said that the Constitution of India is supreme for him. "There could be no favourite, no foe of a state". As the chief minister, he said, "anybody's suffering is my suffering. Providing justice to all is the state's duty".
He sought everybody's blessings "on this occasion to serve the people better".