Ahead of Gujarat polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday turned emotional reminiscing his reported struggle in the past and how his birthplace in Vadnagar taught him to “drink poison”. While in Vadnagar, his birthplace, Modi chose to avoid talking about Gujarat Model and instead focussed on 2002 riots, Lord Shiva
At the BN High School where he studied, he smeared sand from the premises on his forehead. Modi said that he managed to serve the nation with the blessings of ‘Lord Shiva’ since 2001 despite some people “spewing venom” at him during these years.
He was the chief minister of the state when the Gujarat holocaust took place in 2002 killing more than 4,000 people, mostly Muslims. Although the official figure puts the number of people killed at 1200.
“Vadnagar has taught me to drink poison,” he said, while noting that his birthplace is the land of Shiva, like Kashi (Varanasi), his Lok Sabha constituency.
Modi focussing on Gujarat riots and not flaunting the development model that he successfully sold to voters in 2014 to become the prime minister is significant. Many analysts feel that this smacks of the BJP’s nervousness following increasing disappointment among the voters. Modi was the chief minister of the state for 13 years.
He added, “I started my journey from Vadnagar and now I have reached Kashi. Just like Vadnagar, Kashi is also the town of Bhole Baba. Bhole Baba’s blessings gave me immense strength, and this strength is the biggest gift I have received from this land.
“The blessings of Bhole Baba (Lord Shiva) gave me the strength to drink and digest poison. Due to this ability, I was able to counter all those who spewed venom against me since 2001. This ability gave me the strength to serve the motherland with dedication over these many years.”
The prime minister did his schooling in Vadnagar, an ancient town which was once home to a Buddhist monastery and has a centuries-old Shiva temple. However, there’s been a controversy surrounding his higher studies following his reluctance to make his degrees public.
Gujarat goes to polls in December, with the saffron party facing anti-incumbency from the voters. Dalits, Patels and the trading community are angry with the BJP government and have been protesting against them.