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Modi invokes the Mahatma

Modi recalls Mahatma Gandhi as a symbol of Gujarati pride and warns Congress against humiliating Gujaratis by using irresponsible language during the campaign, reports Nagendar Sharma.

india Updated: Dec 08, 2007 03:27 IST
Nagendar Sharma

It was a subdued Chief Minister Narendra Modi at election rallies on Friday, completely avoiding any mention of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and, instead, dwelling at length on Mahatma Gandhi.

With his remarks justifying the killing of Sohrabuddin in a fake police encounter having raised a storm, Modi, in a series of election meetings across Kheda and Anand districts of central Gujarat recalled Mahatma Gandhi as a symbol of Gujarati pride and warned the Congress against humiliating Gujaratis by using irresponsible language during the campaign.

“We Gujaratis are followers of Mahatma Gandhi,” said Modi. “We are peace loving people. We live amicably with those who reciprocate. But if you try to trouble us, we know how to protect our pride as well.”

Modi, however, continued to attack Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “Soniabehn comes to Gujarat and calls me a merchant of death,” he noted. “She has humiliated 5 crore Gujaratis by her statement. We want to tell her that a single Gujarati Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had thrown the British out of India to avenge his humiliation of being thrown from a train compartment in South Africa.”

As he had been doing for the last few days, Modi also recalled Afzal Guru, a key accused in the attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, in his speeches.

He charged that Sonia was leading a coalition whose government “had shown disrespect to the Supreme Court by failing to carry out its
order given almost a year back to hang Afzal Guru”.

Attendance at the rallies in which Modi spoke mostly about the remarkable economic progress of the region under his stewardship was limited to a few thousands.

He also described the UPA government as anti-poor. “Everyone knows the government in Delhi is not capable of controlling prices,” he said. “But Soniabehn did not even say that it would try to do so.”

Modi repeated his persistent complaint that the Centre was discriminating against Gujarat. “Gujaratis pay Rs 40,000 crore as taxes to keep the coffers of the government in Delhi running,” he said, “but in return we are not given even assistance worth Rs 4000 crore.”