Statue of Unity a welcome event for Modi as ‘future PM’

AhmedabadChief Minister Narendra Modi flags off 70 trucks, carrying over three lakh resource kits from Nikol in Ahmedabad on Saturday. Javed raja

Banners proclaiming Narendra Modi not as the BJP's prime ministerial nominee but as "India's future Prime Minister" came up in Nikol area of the city where Modi flagged off resource kits for the iron and soil collection drive for the Statue of Unity project, on Saturday.

Modi, who got a clean chit on Thursday in the 2002 riot cases, and for the first time said that he was shaken by the riots, compared the exercise to the one conducted by the election commission when it enrols, distributes and collects the ballots on the EVM machines.

The Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG), the NGO working behind the scenes on this project, had been comparing it to the collection of bricks for the "Ramjanmabhoomi Shilanyas" at Ayodhya, in terms of scale.

Addressing the crowd, Modi said while flagging off over 70 trucks with banners of his and Sardar Patel's pictures, "It (iron collection drive) is as big and organised as the elections in the country. These resource kits can also be tracked."

Each of the corrugated boxes to bring back the iron tool has a letter to the sarpanch signed by Modi, a bottle to collect soil, posters, booklets, VCD about Sardar Patel, pens and is embedded with a GPS chip to help track it.

Soil from every village and the used farm iron will be placed in these resource kit boxes and will be transported back to the proposed State of Unity site in Gujarat. "The soil will not be picked from anywhere in the village. It will be taken from schools, temples, mosques, mazaars (mausoleums), churches, gurudwaras and memorials of matryrs in the village," Modi said.

The banners saying "India's future prime minister... we welcome you with all our heart," were put up by the local corporator and the BJP MLA.

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