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Gujarat can change the fate of India: Modi

Suman Guha Mozumder in New York | February 02, 2008

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi [Images] said on Friday night that the state has the potential to change the fate of India with its model of development and progress.

Taking a dig at the ruling Congress party for their alleged misrule for the most part since Independence, Modi said in the the recent elections Gujaratis voted for nothing else, but progress and development.

"Every Indian has a right on Gujarat, no matter where they were born. Gujarat has the responsibility to change the fate of India," Modi said.

Modi was addressing non-resident Indians at an event in Ford, New Jersey, through a live video conference from India.

He was reportedly denied a US visa to go to the US despite pleas by his supporters, allegedly because of his indirect role in the killing of members of the minority Muslim community in Gujarat in 2002.

Modi, however, circumvented the ban to reach his supporters though the video conference.

The event, organised by the Overseas Friends of the Bharaitya Janata Party at Royal Albert Hall in Ford marking the recent electoral victory of Modi in the assembly elections in Gujarat as well as the BJP's win in the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, was telecast live by Dish network.

Modi, dressed in a maroon shirt with a saffron jacket, said Gujarat would never do anything that would belittle Gujaratis or Indians for that matter anywhere in the world.

"In fact our responsibility is to lead the country forward," Modi said amid thunderous applause.

He also made an indirect reference to Nandigram [Images] in West Bengal, the state ruled by Marxists for the past three decades, and where a number of people were recently killed, allegedly by party-hired goons.

In Jyotigram, a project to electrify all villages in the state, he said Gujarat has taken a leap forward.

"Gujarat will continue to win. That is the mantra of Gujarat," Modi said.

Over 1,000 people, including former ambassador at-large Bhishma K Agnihotri and Hasmukh Patel, both of whom had come from out of state, waited agog for hours at the sold-out event that began with the national anthem of the United States and India, followed by brief speeches by Dr Rajesh Shukla, president of the OFBJP, and patrons H R Shah and Dr Sudhakar Reddy.

The programme, according to organisers, was to begin sharp at 8 pm EST, but was delayed by more than an hour, forcing news anchors to repeat the Indian news bulletins over and over again.

In his hour-long emotionally charged speech, in which the chief minister fielded questions from members of the community, Modi appealed to all Gujaratis all over the world to be ready fo the golden jubilee year of the state, which would be celebrated in 2010.

"I appeal to all of you to take a step forward. There has to be an inspiration for development and that is how we want to celebrate the golden jubilee," he said.

Modi also appealed to NRIs to contribute in whichever they can for the development of Gujarat as well as India.

Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi addresses an audience in Ford, New Jersey, via video conference from India on Friday.

Photograph: Paresh Gandhi

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