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THE TIMES OF INDIA

Agencies Sep 19, 2011, 06.45pm IST

AHMEDABAD: Attempting an image makeover, Narendra Modi today wound up his three-day fast for communal harmony, claiming his government made no distinction between minority and majority communities and skirted the issue of his being in the BJP's prime ministerial race.

Taking the stage after a speech by party leader M Venkaiah Naidu that Modi is "prime minister material", the Gujarat chief minister said his fast should not be seen from the prism of politics but from that of national interest.

The 54-year-old leader, who announced his fast plans after the Supreme Court refused to pass any orders against him in the Ehsan Jafri murder case and a US Congressional report projecting him as a PM candidate against Rahul Gandhi in the 2014 elections, carefully avoided any reference to talk about his being in the race in the party for the top post.

"The inspiration behind this sadbhavna (communal harmony) mission is rashtra-neeti (national interest) and not rajneeti (politics)," Modi said while vowing again to end vote bank politics. The chief minister, who has often come under attack for the 2002 post-Godhra violence that claimed the lives of over a thousand Muslims, said that people of different faiths have come and supported him in the fast.

In his 30-minute speech, he again did not offer any regret or apology over the violence that followed the Sabarmati train carnage.

"People of all faiths are here. It is not just an overnight phenomenon. It is the fruit of 10 years of labour that my government has done. I have given them this reason for this faith," he claimed.

Earlier, the chief minister broke his fast sipping from a glass of lemon juice offered by men of various faiths as top BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiah Naidu and Gopinath Munde watched.

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