Ahmedabad: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has kept his 2012 poll campaign centred on spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda, attempting to keep his Hindutva image intact while reaching out to other communities, to make himself more acceptable at the national level even as the Opposition dubbed it as a ploy to garner political gains.
Modi has taken out a month long political yatra naming it Swami Vivekananda Yuva Vikas Yatra and has been addressing Vivekananda Youth Convention all over the state and has been quoting from his work on a daily basis on his twitter account, a strategy which has baffled his detractors.
His opponents have severely criticised him for misusing name of Swami Vivekananda, who during his life had remained away from any political activity though being very famous in the late part of 18th century after he returned from the US.
"Swami Vivekananda, as per the tradition of saints in the country having a secular outlook was the biggest propagator of the Hindu religion in modern times," those close to the Ramakrishna Mission established by the saint himself said.
"He had always remained away from politics during his life saying that he was not a political leader," they added. Modi has kept a statue of Swami Vivekananda before his rath on a vehicle which travels with him during the yatra. He has also painted his bus converted into rath with photographs of Swami Vivekananda.
In his speeches during the yatra, Modi speaks about realising dreams of Swami Vivekananda to make India 'vishwa guru', and urges youths to take up his cause.
"We respect Swami Vivekananda and that is the reason we have decided to take out yatra in his name. This yatra ensures that Modi's core belief in Hindutva is intact inspite of his Sadbhavna Mission with the motto of our government appeasement for none, development for all," a BJP leader said on the condition of anonymity.
Modi had a year back launched a Sadbhavna Mission after the Supreme Court appointed SIT gave a clean chit to him in the 2002 riot cases to reach out to minority community of the state and effect a changeover in his image so that he is more acceptable at the national level.
State Congress chief Arjun Modhvadia slammed him for using the name of Swami Vivekananda. "Earlier, he used the name of Lord Rama for their political gains now they are using the name of Swami Vivekananda. People will realise the true face of this leaders."
Former chief minister Keshubhai Patel has also severely criticised Modi for using the name of Vivekananda by saying in his blog that a great saint who always kept himself away from politics is being dragged by Modi in the world of politics.
However, giving reply to his detractors on taking out a rally in the name of Swami Vivekananda Modi has said, "Political parties used Osama Bin Laden duplicate during campaigning in Bihar elections and every body remained silent. Now, when I am taking out a rally in the name of Vivekananda, what is their problem.
He further said now is the time to decide if you want the director of Laden or that of Swami Vivekananda for the country.