Modi hedges questions on whether he takes moral responsibility for the violence

Modi hedges questions on whether he takes moral responsibility for the violence

Modi hedges questions on whether he takes moral responsibility for the violence

Schoolchildren seek autograph of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on the second day of his fast in Ahmedabad on Sunday. PTIOne of the key allies of NDA, JD(U) which is not in tune with Modi and decided not to join his fast, today came out openly against him, saying a person who has "failed to follow Rajdharma" with the six crore people of his state won't be able to do justice with 125 crore people of the country.

At least 25 persons, including activist Mallika Sarabhai, were detained as 2002 Gujarat riot victims were today barred in Naroda area from protesting against Modi's fast for communal harmony.

A combative Modi retorted "What is this thing?" when a reporter asked him whether he accepted moral responsibility for the violence that took place in Gujarat in 2002 after the Sabarmati train carnage. "You people like to stretch such a lie that you like."

Asked in what way he would regret the killings that took place in the state then, he only said, "I have talked about it elaborately in my letter today. I had made a statement then also, but you people forgot it when it is truth. You (the media) are always looking for gossip and if you like a lie, you stretch it to any extent."

In an open letter to the countrymen on the eve of his fast, Modi had stated in what was being interpreted as the first sign of regret for 2022 riots that "as a Chief Minister of the state, pain of anybody in the state is my pain. (Delivering) Justice to everyone is the duty of the state."

To a question, Modi denied that he was celebrating the Supreme Court order on the Ehsan Jafri murder case and instead said he was merely fasting.

"Who is celebrating? I am only fasting. Is this celebration? And what verdict are you talking about. Has there been a single FIR against Modi in any police station. Has Modi been named in any case on the Gujarat violence?," he instead questioned.

On whether he wanted to play a bigger role in national politics, Modi said "Every chief minister is playing a role in national politics. I am already working for my country and doing it a service."

Asked specifically on whether he intended to play a bigger role within the BJP, Modi humbly said, "I am small party worker. I am working for Gujarat, I am working for my party and for my country."

About his refernece to "genuine mistakes" during the last 10 years and whether this was his way of expressing regret for the 2002 riots, Modi side-stepped a direct response saying no individual can claim to be perfect.

He said while constructive criticism is always welcome in a democracy, allegations without any basis being repeated again and again served no purpose.

At least 25 persons, including post Godhra riot victims of Naroda Patiya area, Mukul Sinha of NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM) and Sarabhai were detained when they tried to protest against Modi's Sadbhavana fast in Naroda area, police said today.

Naroda Patiya had witnessed the worst ever riots incident in 2002, when more than 90 people were killed.

"Police tried to prohibit riot victims meeting at Naroda Patiya by denying permission today," JSM convener Sinha told reporters before being detained by the police.

Police has cordoned off the Naroda Patiya area to stop the riot victims from attending the meeting, Sinha said adding, "The real face of Modi's Sadbhavana is now exposed."

A large number of people tried to enter Modi's fast venue-the Gujarat University Convention hall here-and police resorted to baton-charge to control them.

The large crowd turnout prompted BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain, among the several BJP leaders who descended at the venue, to say that Muslims in Gujarat have accepted Modi's governance.

"The perception of BJP and Modi being anti-minority is not correct. The fact is that Muslims in Gujarat are progressing," he said.

In Patna, JD(U) spokesman Shivanand Tiwari said, "Modi has failed to discharge Rajdharma in Gujarat. When he can't do justice to the six crore people of the state, how will he be able to deliver justice to 125 crore people of the country".

He said there is still a sense of fear and insecurity among the people of Gujarat.

While BJP leaders exulted over the "unprecedented response" to Modi's fast, the riot victims in an open letter to the Chief Minister today said that, "No amount of power or arrogance gave Midas his glass of water nor will you get your 'sadbhavana' with all your developmental publicity."

"If you were so great a Chief Minister as you claim today, why couldn't you protect these innocent, helpless Muslims? In fact, why did you fail to protect the innocent 58 passengers of Sabarmati Express who also died in the terrible fire on 27th February, 2002?," they asked.

The counter fast of Gujarat Congress leaders Shankersinh Vaghela and Arjun Modhvadia against Modi's 'Sadbhavana Mission' also entered the second day today.

"This fast by Modi is an exercise of image makeover for him to enter national politics but he is not going to succeed in it," Vaghela said.

The Congress leaders are observing their fast on the footpath in front of Sabarmati Ashram.

"We have taken the common man and party workers along with us in this fast. It is unlike the five-star fast of the Gujarat Chief Minister where several crores of public money has been spent on the arrangements draining the state exchequer," Vaghela said.

"They have spent several crores on the fast using the state machinery to organise it... we are sitting here to expose the black side of BJP government before the people of Gujarat," he said.

Reacting to Modi's fast, Congress leader Digvijay Singh said that the Chief Minister should instead of enacting a drama of fasting rehabilitate families who lost everything in the Gujarat riots of 2002.

About Modi being a PM candidate, Singh said, "We are very happy, this will only make things easier for Congress."