Greater Kashmir

Ahmedabad, Sep 17: Fighting hard to remove the taint of 2002 violence, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today began a three-day fast for peace and communal harmony vowing to end votebank politics but said nothing directly by way of regret for the post-Godhra carnage.
 Buoyed by the Supreme Court’s refusal to pass any order against him in the Ehsan Jafri murder case and words of praise from a US Congressional report, Modi sat on fast on his birthday in the air-conditioned Gujarat University Convention Centre flanked by top BJP and allied party leaders.
 “I had said at that time (2002) these riots should not have happened in a civilised society. At that time I had felt the pain and now also I am feeling the pain,” he said in his speech to an audience that had a sprinkling of Muslims, Christians and Sikhs among others.
 Often attacked for his alleged complicity in the violence that shook Gujarat after the Sabarmati Express carnage, Modi did not directly offer any regret or apology but said that he wanted to ensure that Gujarat never slips below parameters of humanity.
 Modi marked his 62nd birthday by taking blessings from his mother before beginning the fast, which was countered by Shankarsinh Vaghela who staged a hunger strike on a footpath near Sabarmati Ashram near Gandhinagar in the company of Congress leaders and workers.
 Top BJP leaders L K Advani, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Muktar Abbas Naqvi and Rajiv Pratap Rudy were on the stage along with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, AIADMK leaders M Thambidurai and V Maitreyan. But BJP’s longtime ally JD(U) was conspicuous by its absence.