New Delhi: In an indication of the growing clout of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the BJP, senior party leaders, including L K Advani and Arun Jaitley, have decided to attend his three-day fast starting this Saturday for peace, unity and harmony in the state.
      
Advani, who is MP from Gandhinagar, and Jaitley, Rajya Sabha MP from the state, will leave for Ahmedabad on Saturday morning to attend the fast to be undertaken by Modi.
      
Other Central leaders who will attend the fast are BJP General Secretary and Chief Spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad, Spokesperson and MP Shahnawaz Hussain and General Secretary Vijay Goel.
      
Modi is undertaking the fast days after the Supreme Court verdict asking the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to file a final report or a chargesheet to be heard in a lower court in Gujarat in the Gulbarga Society riots case.
      
Central leaders Ananth Kumar and Balbir Punj (who is in-charge of Gujarat) are also likely to attend Modi's fast, party sources said. They are away in Singapore to participate in a seminar organised by Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS).
      
After the Supreme Court order, the buzz is that this paves the way for Modi to play a larger role in the BJP at the national level. This includes Modi becoming the next party President or even be declared the next Prime Ministerial candidate of the party.

Meanwhile, Gordhanbhai Zadaphia, former Minister of State for Home in Modi's cabinet who fell out with him, called the three day fast a "political stunt".
       
"It is a political stunt and Congress leader Shankarsingh Vaghela is doing another stunt. They are making a mockery of a fast," he said.
      
Vaghela has announced that he will also go on a fast to counter Modi's fast.

Congress ridicules Modi's proposed fast


The Congress in Gujarat on Thursday ridiculed Chief Minister Narendra Modi's proposed fast for peace, harmony and unity in the state saying all he wants to do is to project himself as a "messiah" of the minorities.
   
"The Gujarat Chief Minister, interpreting the Supreme Court order as he has been declared innocent, has announced a three-day fast. Now, he wants to project himself as a messiah of minorities by undertaking such a fast and wants to show that he is their protector," Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela told reporters here.
   
To counter Modi's fast from September 17, Vaghela and GPCC President Arjun Modhvadia have announced a parallel fast at the same time.
   
"If there is a justifiable cause for fast by the Chief Minister, we can understand it. But he is saying that this fast is for sadbhavna. But his fast is based on farce, falsehood and corruption," Vaghela claimed.

"Our fast will be held on the footpath outside Sabarmati ashram and will be a fast of the common man but the fast of Modi will be a five star air-conditioned fast as he is planning to do it in the convention hall of Gujarat University," he said.
   
"Through our fast, we will highlight the issues of corruption under Modi's rule and if he extends his fast, we will also do it," he further said.
   
Modhvadia and other leaders released an open letter seeking Modi's answer as to why he is undertaking such a fast.

Mallika Sarabhai calls Modi fast a ‘circus’
    
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's proposed fast was not a political gimmick but a
"a circus", noted classical dancer and social activist Mallika Sarabhai said here on Thursday, and added that she would feed children from slums during the period.
    
She said in a state where 46 per cent of children were malnourished and 70 per cent of women were anaemic, Modi's act was "a cheap joke" and a mockery of the poor, for whom fasting was not an option but a routine compulsion.
    
Sarabhai said that by way of protest, she would provide nutritious meals two times a day to 200 malnourished children from the city slums during the three days of Modi's fast (September 17-19).
    
"Anshan is a fast unto death for a cause and is political in nature, but what we hear in Gujarat is an `Upvas' which is a fast of individual nature, it is one's salutation to his or her God," the noted dancer told mediapersons here.
    
"Our Chief Minister is going to spend over Rs 6 crore of taxpayers' money on his `Upvas', in one of the biggest and expensive halls of the city. What Modi is doing is not a political gimmick but a circus.
    
"If Modi wants to do something, he should do it for the poorest of the poor who cannot think of a fast because they never get two square meals a day. For them fasting in not an option but a necessity," she said.

Scams worth Rs one lakh crore in Gujarat, alleges Zadafia

Gordhanbhai Zadafia, a former minister in the Narendra Modi government, on Thursday alleged scams to the tune of Rs one lakh crore in the state since 2002 and sought President Pratibha Patil's intervention on the Lokayukta issue.

The former Minister of State for Home, who left Modi to form his own Mahagujarat Janta Party, on Thursday, led a delegation to Patil.
   
He maintained that the appointment of R A Mehta as the state's Lokayukta was correct and Modi had no right to oppose the appointment.
   
"There is no provision in the Lokayukta Act of Gujarat that consulting the Council of Ministers or the Chief Minister is a must," Zadafia said and sought immediate intervention of the President and the Central government in the matter.
   
"The state government is planning to amend the Lokayukta Act during a special Assembly session on September 26-27 after which Council of Ministers and the Chief Minister will have a say in the appointment," he said.
   
He alleged that the post of Lokayukta has been lying vacant for the last seven and a half years despite three reminders from the governor.
   
"We met the president for half an hour. She suggested to us that we should also take this matter to the Prime Minister and the union Home Minister," Zadafia said.
   
He alleged that 17 scams worth Rs one lakh crore have taken place since 2002 in Gujarat.
   
"This includes giving away of 40,000 hectares of land to senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu on lease of Rs 1.5 paise per square metre. Land was given to Archean Chemicals and Solaris in the Kutch region," he alleged.

(JPN/Agencies)