Chief minister Narendra Modi's three-day fast, scheduled to begin on Saturday, will be the cue for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) national leadership to visit the state — signifying Modi’s growing stature within the party.
Visitors will include BJP 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.
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.
Modi’s decision to fast for “harmony” followed the Supreme Court’s decision to send back a 2002 riots case to the trial court.
Modi has termed the SC decision a victory. The opposition, however, is not impressed.
The Congress said its leaders would fast outside Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. “Modi is holding a five-star fast in an air-conditioned convention hall… while we will sit on a footpath,” Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela said.
Jagruti, the widow of slain politician Haren Pandya, will also fast against Modi’s rule.
Social activist and dancer Mallika Sarabhai will also protest, albeit differently. Rather than fast, she will feed slum children for three days.