Friday, February 6, 2009

Narendra Modi set to apologize for Gujarat riots

The SecularsAhmedabad. Narendra Modi, who holds the record for the longest serving Chief Minister of Gujarat, will commence campaigning for the parliamentary elections with a bang. Sources close (as on today) to him have revealed in private that he will be formally launching his own political party and tendering an apology to Muslims at the Dehrasar (Jain temple) in Naroda Patia area in Ahmedabad for 2002 riots.

The new party being floated by him will be called Gujarati Janata Party (GJP). Keen to secure much more than absolute majority in the next Assembly elections, Modi wants his candidates to win most parliament seats from the state this year and GJP will work with this sole objective.

To avoid complications with the Election Commission, however, GJP will technically be part of BJP for some time. Most state Congress leaders, led by his bĂȘte noire and one-time RSS stalwart Shankarsinh Vaghela, are expected to troop in to GJP. Vaghela is said to be close to former CM of UP, Kalyan Singh. He has already hinted that Muslims do not see Modi as inimical to them and the apology will reinforce their confidence. Like in Kalyan Singh’s case, however, Vaghela’s son will continue in Congress, just in case.

It is well known that BJP leaders in other states dread Modi for his hardline Hindutva image that projected him as the future party supremo. He is wanted as a poster boy only to the extent absolutely necessary to sway voters who see a savior in him. However, he is getting increasingly alienated with the Saffron elements back home.

Demolition of dozens of roadside temples, allegedly to release the land to big builders, has infuriated many long-time colleagues, including two former CMs. The RSS, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vauhini, Shiv Sena etc., led by international Vice President of VHP Pravin Togadia, are up against Modi for working against their interests.

To counter these elements, Modi decided to break away and start his own party. Observers see in Modi’s apology yet another masterstroke by the expert election strategist. Wooing the Muslims can not only distance rebel Saffronites from voters but can also weaken Congress. He is noted for checkmating Congress on many occasions in the past.

Law minister Ashok Bhatt, the septuagenarian who had a leading role in every riot in the state since 1960s, claimed that Muslims no more see him as Maut ka saudager (merchant of death) as projected by Congress. He said Modi never discriminated against them.

“The works taken up by him proved that we had worked for the welfare of all. We have been ruthless with everyone who came in the way of rapid growth of our mega business empires, be they of Adani, Tata or Ambani, who is SP’s blue eyed boy,” he said and added: “We don’t discriminate between majority and minority communities to crush resistance to wealth creation, whoever has it."

Anandiben Patel, Gujarat's Education Minister who is among the very few to not have crossed his path said: "Letters and phone calls are coming in hordes not just from Muslims but also from Hindus who have hailed his decision to tackle VHP-RSS hooligans."

The draft of Modi’s speech launching GJP is almost final. Drafted by Arun Jetley, his only backer at the HQ, it will slightly deviate from the line taken by Kalyan Singh. Modi may solemnly declare: "I take moral responsibility for the riots in 2002 even though I never killed or lynched or raped anyone personally."

The apology is expected to cleanse out what former PM Vajpayee had termed as a ‘blot’ on India. Referring to Vajpayee’s unfriendly remark, Vaghela said: "While the party he (Modi) had devoted his life in strengthening did not even take his advice on national affairs, billionaire tycoons openly endorsed him as Prime Ministerial material."

A veteran journalist, noted for routinely writing Modi-blasting Gujarati-English stories in the national newspaper he worked for, has been enlisted to promote GJP. For the record, he had promoted Vaghela’s RJP that existed in the interim period of his breaking up with BJP and merging with Congress.

(This special report has been brought to you by chhuchhundarbaba)


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