Sunday, 18 September 2011

Modi's Drama.

New Delhi: He may have prime ministerial ambitions but Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's 2002 riots ghost will not leave him soon, say political analysts and critics.

On Sunday, the second day of his three-day hunger strike aimed at cementing communal relations in the state, criticism of Modi's past record continued, both in and outside the state.

B.R.P. Bhaskar, a Kerala-based political analyst, thinks Modi's fast has come too late and creates suspicion.

"He will have to prove the genuineness of his new proclamations as he has already destroyed the social fabric of the state," Bhaskar told IANS over telephone.

Modi, blamed for the biased handling of the 2002 Gujarat communal riots, launched his 'sadbhavana' (goodwill) fast from a university hall Saturday -- as he turned 61.

Mridula Mukherjee, a professor with Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, calls the fast a "farce".

"The exercise is manipulative and the prayer for togetherness mentioned in his 'sadbhavana' statement betrays his political ambitions."

Mukherjee said scenes of Muslims wearing skull caps and in burqa greeting Modi at the fast venue did not mean much.

"Nothing has changed on the ground in Gujarat - be it the rightwing textbooks or the atmosphere of discrimination," she added.

Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi spoke on similar lines.

He said "a mere fast cannot wash away (Modi's) tainted past, packed with serious commissions and omissions".

"It will carry no conviction with any secular person in the country," Alvi told IANS.

The BJP thinks differently.

"The past week vindicated Modi and the BJP on many fronts," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told IANS, referring to the Supreme Court ordering a trial court to hear a case alleging the chief minister's complicity in the Gulberg housing society killings in 2002 - a move that was interpreted in completely different ways by the party and its rivals.

But Sitharaman thinks "it's premature" to discuss the prime ministerial candidature of Modi or to even link it with the fast.

She quoted a US Congressional Research Service report as praising Modi's governance and achievements.

Bhaskar feels it is a hype that Modi will emerge at the national level one day. "Even the US report admits he is popular only in Gujarat."

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