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PM offers prayers at Lord Devnarayan temple, urges people to take pride in India’s heritage

PM Narendra Modi offers prayers at Malaseri temple in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today offered prayers at the Malaseri temple, in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district, on the 1111th birth anniversary of Lord Devnarayan, a revered deity of the Gujjar community.

He addressed a gathering of hundreds of people and urged them to take pride in India’s heritage. Apart from Bhilwara, people from other districts of the state such as Tonk, Sawai Madhopur, Rajsamand, Ajmer and Chittorgarh attended the programme.

“Let us all take pride in our heritage, get out of the slavery mindset and remember our duties towards the country,” the Prime Minister said.

Talking about India’s prominence on the world map, PM Modi said, “Today, the whole world is looking towards India with great expectations. We have to live up to the expectations of the world by proving our resolutions.”

“Social power has played a huge role in India’s journey of thousands of years. India is not just a land, but an expression of our civilization, of culture, of goodwill, of potential,” he explained.

BJP leaders said the visit was part of a religious and cultural meeting and not a political one even as the Rajasthan polls are just 10 months away.

“The Prime Minister has undertaken a number of projects for religious and cultural restoration like the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Ujjain temple. Hopefully, something will be done for the Dev Narayan temple as well. We should not look at everything through a political lens,” Satish Poonia, BJP state president, told NDTV.

The Gujjars constitute about 9 per cent to 12 per cent of the population in the state and have a significant influence in around 40 assembly constituencies in eastern Rajasthan.

The Gujjars have in the past launched violent protests for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions and had recently threatened to block Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s entry into the state.

In the last election, the BJP had given tickets to nine people from the Gujjar community but they lost as the Gujjar vote-bank shifted to the Congress as they were expecting Sachin Pilot to become the first Gujjar Chief Minister of the state. However, this did not happen and this time around political observers expect to see a change in the voting pattern.

“What happened last time will not happen again. Last time, the Gujjars lost and now they have learnt their lesson,” prominent Gujjar leader Vijay Bainsla told NDTV at the Dev Narayan temple.