On his first visit to his birthplace since occupying the top post, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today held a roadshow and visited his school here and said the town had taught him to "drink poison". At the B N High School where he studied, he smeared sand from the premises on his forehead.
Modi, who once sold tea at the Vadnagar railway station, recalled his journey to Delhi from Gujarat where he was the chief minister for 13 years from 2001.
He said he has managed to serve the nation with the blessings of Lord Shiva since 2001 despite some people "spewing venom" at him during these years.
He was apparently referring to the attacks on him during his tenure as Gujarat chief minister after the riots of 2002 in the state.
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"Vadnagar has taught me to drink poison," he said, while noting that his birthplace is the land of Shiva, like Kashi (Varanasi), his Lok Sabha constituency.
Modi was addressing a public meeting after inaugurating a newly-built medical college and launching an immunization programme here.
"I started my journey from Vadnagar and now I have reached Kashi. Just like Vadnagar, Kashi is also the town of Bhole Baba. Bhole Baba's blessings gave me immense strength, and this strength is the biggest gift I have received from this land," he said.
"The blessings of Bhole Baba (Lord Shiva) gave me the strength to drink and digest poison. Due to this ability, I was able to counter all those who spewed venom against me since 2001. This ability gave me the strength to serve the motherland with dedication over these many years," he said.
The prime minister did his schooling in Vadnagar, an ancient town which was once home to a Buddhist monastery and has a centuries-old Shiva temple.
On the second day of his visit to poll-bound Gujarat, Modi held a roadshow here. A large number of people lined the road to greet him. There were chants of "Modi-Modi" and flowers were showered on him along the route.
Before inaugurating a newly-built medical college in the town, he visited the Hatkeshwar Mahadev temple where he performed puja alongwith Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
"I am touched by the immense love showered by the people of Vadnagar today. It gave me new energy to serve the nation with more zeal," Modi said, addressing a public gathering after the roadshow.
"I saw many faces among the people who came to greet me. Those faces brought back many memories of my childhood," he said.