BJP NATIONAL president Amit Shah, senior party leader L K Advani and former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel reached Somnath on Tuesday and held a meeting, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the famous temple. Modi is scheduled to land in Somnath at 9 am on Wednesday. Shah had landed in Rajkot on Monday evening and drove to Somnath late night. Advani and Keshubhai reached Sagar Darshan, the VVIP guest house of Shree Somnath Trust (SST) on Tuesday afternoon.
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SST is a religious trust which manages the Somnath temple. Keshubhai is the chairman of the board of trustees of SST. Advani, Modi and Shah are its trustees. Retired chief secretary of Gujarat, Pravin Laheri, retired professor of Sanskrit, Jivanbhai Parmar and industrialist Harshavardhan Neotia are the other trustees in the seven-member board. Laheri is also the secretary of the trust.
Local BJP leaders have organised a felicitation programme for the PM before he heads to the temple for offering puja. After puja gets over, Modi will attend the annual meeting of SST which will be chaired by Keshubhai.
“It will be a routine meeting. The agenda of the meeting has been drawn at a short notice and there is nothing very special about it. But it will be for the first time since 1978 that an incumbent PM of the country will visit the temple and attend the meeting of the trust here in Somnath,” Laheri said. Morarji Desai was an SST trustee between 1966 to 1995 and had visited Somnath when he was the PM. Parmar, who is the oldest among the present trustees, said that Morarji Desai was the last incumbent PM to pay homage at the Somnath shrine while in office.
SST has already allotted land for an oceanarium proposed to be developed by Gujarat government near the Somnath temple. “Trustees were posted copies of proposal to allot land for the oceanarium around a month ago, seeking their approval. The trustees have approved the allotment. But the matter might come up for discussion at tomorrow’s meeting,” Parmar said.
Advani had launched his rath yatra in 1990 from Somnath, which set the ground for the BJP. Keshubhai had become a trustee of SST in 1999 and has been its chairman since 2004. Advani had joined the board in 2004, followed by Modi in 2009. Shah is the latest entrant. He was appointed on the board last year.