Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is distressed that he will not be seated beside President Pratibha Patil at an event at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial here on Thursday.
Modi takes pride in being called the Chhote Sardar (the younger leader) and a successor to the country’s first home minister, who used to be called the Iron Man of India.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Modi has always been an admirer of Sardar Patel, although he was a Congress leader. For, Patel — after Mahatma Gandhi — is tallest leader the state has ever produced.
So, not getting a prominent place at a function in memory of Sardar Patel is bad for the image Modi has built over the years.
The event is being organised by senior Congress leader and Union minister Dinsha Patel, who, as president of the organising trust — Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Memorial Society — will sit beside the President.
Since the seat on the other side of the President is reserved for Governor S C Jamir, Modi wants Dinsha Patel vacate the chair.
Patel told Hindustan Times: “Modi has been trying hard for the last 10 days to persuade me. But since this is not a government function, we don’t have to abide by the protocol.”
What irked Modi more was the absence of his name on the invitation cards. The chief minister’s office (CMO) also tried to get the cards reprinted with Modi’s name on them. The CMO, however, refused to comment on Patel’s charges.