Modi skirts Godhra riots; harps on Gandhian theme of Ram Rajya

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New Delhi, Oct 12 (UNI) Ahead of the December Assembly elections, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today harped on the Gandhian concept of 'Ram Rajya' and asserted that he would strive to herald a new era of development that would encompass all segments of society.

Mr Modi also deftly parried a persistent query on the 2002 Godhra riots, and chose instead to talk at length about how he had transformed the state into an economic powerhouse that had fuelled the country's growth.

The Chief Minister, who was one of the high-profile speakers at the Hindustan Times Summit-2007 here, was asked whether his chief ministership would be defined by the horrendous Godhra riots.

Pat came the reply from the charismatic but the controversial leader, ''For me, the people of the state are the most important.

They have lent support to me, and will continue to support me on the development agenda.'' To buttress his contention, he said when his government provides round-the-clock electricity to all the 18,000 villages in the state, no one is discriminated against on the basis of religion.

Asked about the future of Muslims in the state, he asserted that Gujarat had always been an inclusive state. ''Whether it is Jews or Parsis or any other community, we have welcomed all,'' he said.

Mr Modi said Mahatma Gandhi had channelised the energies of the people during the freedom struuggle. ''My government has also strived to empower the people of the state by ensuring their participation in various movements of development,'' he said.

In this context, he referred the revolutionary success in the fields of water management, Girl Child Education Campaign and power supply in all villages.

''Our dropout rates are down to three per cent. Today, we have more than 18,000 villages with uninterrupted power supply under Jyotigram scheme, which has revolutionised our rural economy,'' he said.

The Chief Minister, who spoke on the topic of 'The role of states in building the nation', said that in India's federal democracy, there should be a healthy competition for development, and it did not imply a conflict between the pride of a performing state and national identity.

''We must come out of the negative perception of regional pride vs national identity,'' he said, adding that his state had adopted the mantra of 'Gujarat's Development for India's Growth'.


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