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I believe in Mahatma Gandhi's ideals, claims Modi
October 12, 2007 17:42 IST
He is widely perceived as the person responsible for the post-Godhra carnage in Gujarat. But Chief Minister Narendra Modi stunned his audience at a summit on Friday by claiming he believes in the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi [Images].
Both Mahatma Gandhi and his idea of Ram Rajya are relevant for me," he said in an interaction at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Friday.
Emphasising that Gandhi's vision of Ram Rajya was relevant in today's times, Modi said it was a powerful idea, but sadly people were now abandoning it. Asked about the definition of Ram Rajya, he said as per Gandhi, it meant a welfare state.
Modi said that he also believed in Gandhi's idea of Gram Swarajya, according to which village-level representatives should be appointed unanimously as elections led to violence and bad blood.
Shortly after he became the chief minister of Gujarat, 11,000 villages were due for elections and he announced a scheme wherein any village that unanimously chose its leaders would be given a development fund of Rs one lakh.
"Forty-five per cent of the villages chose their leaders unanimously," said Modi.
On how he reacted to the myriad titles he was given, including 'Hindutva hero' and 'hero of hatred', he said, "With folded hands, I want to say I respect them and hope with time everyone will understand the truth".
Asked if the regretted the Gujarat riots of 2002, he said the people of the state had judged him and done him justice. "They have given me a chance once and they will give me another chance. They are my God. I am answerable to them. You are also invited to come to Gujarat and see the situation yourself."
"You have to decide if you are willing to accept the people's verdict or keep hanging on to the past," Modi said.
Defending his belief in Hindutva, he said it was an all-encompassing philosophy."Hindu or Hindutva is a philosophy that accepts the fact that there are different ways of approaching the truth, that is singular. It says God is one, but how you see him could differ," he said.
"India finds a mention in the official book of Israel as the only place where Jews have not been persecuted. When the Parsis landed on the shores of Gujarat, the Indian king agreed to their condition that no non-Iranian would be allowed within 50 metres of their sacred fire," he said responding to a question on whether his vision of India had a place for Muslims.
Modi also told the audience that the emotional blackmail and misuse of religion involved in terrorism was due to the feeling of 'holier than thou' that was contrary to the idea of Hindutva.
Asked if the Muslim minority community in Gujarat felt secure, he said, "When will people get rid of this negativism and see the whole truth. If 18,000 villages are getting electricity 24 hours a day, you can't split it in 90 per cent and 10 per cent. Similarly, the water of Narmada is brought for the entire Sabarmati and not for parts of it," he said.
The chief minister said that criticism was welcome in a democracy, but he was against baseless allegations. "I am against allegations. Nobody can claim that he or she is perfect."
Addressing the summit on the topic "Regional Pride over National Identity", he said the progress of Gujarat would only contribute to the development of the country. "Regional identity is not necessarily in conflict with national identity," Modi said.