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Sufi music and women in burqas

Speeches, sufi music, and women in burqas seated in the front rows, inside. Giant television screens and a massive security arrangement, outside. That was the scene on Day 1 of Narendra Modi's fast for communal harmony.

india Updated: Sep 18, 2011 01:07 IST
HT Correspondent

Speeches, sufi music, and women in burqas seated in the front rows, inside. Giant television screens and a massive security arrangement, outside. That was the scene on Day 1 of Narendra Modi's fast for communal harmony.

"BJP leaders have been entrusted the task of gathering crowds from across the state for three days and they have been specifically told to bring in as many Muslims as possible," said a BJP MLA. "I brought 15 Muslims from my constituency in north Gujarat," he added.

And not just BJP leaders, Muslim businessmen from the Muslim trader communities of Bohras and Khojas had also been asked to bring in people. "I run two restaurants in north Gujarat. A BJP leader and a senior government official asked me to take a few people for the CM's fast," said a Muslim businessman, who declined to be identified.

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In another first, the administration had issued advertisements in all Urdu dailes and magazines in the country.

Pandya wife stays away from fast
Jagruti Pandya, wife of slain former BJP minister Haren Pandya, decided not to go to the venue of Modi's fast. She was initially planning to hand over a memorandum seeking justice for her husband.

She,however, changed her mind after speaking to LK Advani over phone on Saturday. Advani assured Jagruti that he would support her efforts to secure justice.

Ex-CM Vaghela fasts as well
While Modi's fast continued at the air-conditioned Gujarat University Convention Centre, Gujarat Congress leaders, former CM Shankarsinh Vaghela and state Congress chief Arjun Modhvadia, also launched their 75-hour-long fast at the Mahatma Gandhi Ashram to counter Modi's fast.