Campaigning in Godhra Tuesday, 3 km from where the fire in a coach of the Sabarmati train in 2002 set off the Gujarat riots, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the “sacrifice of the Ram bhakts” 20 years ago had ushered in an era of peace and development in the state.
“20 varsh pehle, jo balidaan Godhra mein hua… Ram bhakton ke uss balidan ne Gujarat ko ek model ke roop mein aage badhaya aur Gujarat ne uss samay curfew par sadev ke liye curfew laga dala. Ab curfew nahin lagta Gujarat mein, dange nahin hote Gujarat mein. Gujarat mein har vyakti surakshit hai, vyapar phal-phool raha hai, beti aur behnen surakshit hain (20 years ago, the sacrifice made by Ram bhakts in Gujarat resulted in a ‘Gujarat model’, and a curfew was put forever on frequent curfews, making the state curfew-free, riot free. Every person in Gujarat is safe, business is flourishing, women are safe),” Adityanath said.
To chants of Jai Shri Ram from the crowd, the BJP leader added that the “balidan” by the Ram bhakts had led to the country getting the “yashaswi netritva (dynamic leadership)” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “It’s thanks to it that work began in Ayodhya for the construction of a grand temple of Lord Ram in Ayodhya. Ayodhya mein Bhagwan Ram ka mandir, Bharat ki aastha ka samman bhi hai aur Godhra ke Ram bhakton ke prati samman ka bhaav bhi hai (The Ram temple is a symbol of India’s faith as well as a tribute to the Ram bhakts).”
There is a reason the BJP would not let go Tuesday of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s off-hand remark talking of Narendra Modi and Ravana in the same breath. Nothing works to rally Gujarat voters behind their former chief minister and current Prime Minister as a personal attack on him.
They may be unhappy about housing, education, health facilities, but across the state, the sentiment is common: “Can’t humiliate Modiji.”
Among those who asserts this is Champaben, of village Kathpur. Tucking in her pallu tightly as she gets down to chores, she says: “We do not have a house. Every time we ask for one under the Awas Yojana, the local sarpanch dismisses our plea and helps his cronies. Our village does not have a health centre nor a school for children after class 5… Pan ame Modi saheb nu maan raakshu (But we will not do anything to blemish Modi saheb’s honour).”