Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi began his three-day fast for “peace, unity and communal harmony” in the BJP-ruled state on Saturday.
The BJP stalwart’s 72-hour fast under `Sadbhavna Mission’ coincides with his 62nd birthday.
The venue, Gujarat University Convention Centre in Ahmedabad – where a host of leaders from the BJP and its key ally Shiromani Akali Dal have arrived – has been put under strict vigil by the police.
On the eve of fast, Modi had issued a statement that was interpreted as his first sign of regret over the 2002 post-Godhra communal violence.
“Constitution of India is supreme for us. As a Chief Minister of the state, pain of anybody in the state is my pain. (Delivering) Justice to everyone is the duty of the state,” Modi had said on Friday.
Modi, in an attempt to reach out to the minority community, had said the state has realised that communal frenzy and casteism never helped anybody grow in the country and expressed “gratitude” to those who pointed out his mistakes in the last 10 years.
BJP leaders like L K Advani, Arun Jaitely, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Sahanawaz Hussain, Smriti Irani and Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Prem Kumar Dhumal, among others, were present when Modi began his fast.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, whose party Shiromani Akali Dal is a key member of the BJP-led NDA, was also present.
Leaders of Shiv Sena, BJP’s ally for over two decades, and emissaries of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha of AIADMK are also expected to come here to in support of Modi.
In response to Modi’s move, Gujarat Congress leaders Shankarsinh Vaghela and Arjun Modhvadia also started their fast on a footpath in front of Sabarmati Ashram.
After the Supreme Court order in a Gujarat riots case on Monday that gave him some relief, Modi announced the fast for three days calling it a ‘Sadbhavna Mission’.
Sources in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation(AMC) said that a small room at the GU Convention Hall has been converted into a rest room for Modi.
The state Government has made arrangements to provide real time information about the unfolding events at Modi’s fast venue.
The entire event can be witnessed by those with Internet access through live webcast on Modi’s official website.
Tight security arrangements have been made at fast venues of Modi and Vaghela, police said.