Gujaratis had affinity with Benazir: Modi


New Delhi : Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, on his first visit here Saturday after the electoral triumph in his state, said Gujaratis had a special relationship with former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her assassination would give a fillip to the “Jiye Sind” movement.

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After avoiding the media while leaving the residence of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani, on whom he called first, Modi relented and spoke to newspersons outside the residence of former prime minister and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) chairperson Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He spent about 20 minutes with Vajpayee.

Stepping out of his bullet-proof car after persistent exhortations from the press, Modi agreed to speak briefly.

“I have come here to congratulate Atalji on his 84th birthday. Since my swearing-in ceremony was on the same day as his birthday, I could not come then. So now I have come here at the first opportunity,” said Modi.

“And yes, I want to say one thing more. I want to express my sorrow and anguish at the killing of Benazir Bhutto. This rise of terrorism in Pakistan is a cause of concern for all anywhere in the world. The whole humanity should sit up and ponder over how to fight terrorism collectively,” he said.

“We Gujaratis had a very special and distinct relationship with Benazir. Her grandfather was the Diwan of Junagadh and her father and other members of her family spent some years in Gujarat,” said the Gujarat chief minister.

“The Jiye Sind movement (the movement for separate independent Sind state) has always been very strong, and this assassination will further fuel and strengthen the Jiye Sind movement,” he added.

Modi, who arrived in the capital around 10.30 a.m. to a rousing welcome at the airport by the party’s Delhi unit, drove down straight to Advani’s Prithviraj Road residence and remained closeted with him for nearly four hours. BJP president Rajnath Singh, former union minister Arun Shourie and Rajya Sabha member and editor Chandan Mitra also were present.

From Vajpayee’s residence, Modi drove back to the airport to catch the next flight to Ahmedabad.

Party leaders hinted that after his resounding victory, Modi was likely to be inducted in the party’s parliamentary board. He was dropped from the panel earlier this year after Rajnath Singh took over the party’s reins.

But no official announcement was made on this Saturday. Modi also did not call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh though this was widely expected.