Makeover that wasn’t | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Makeover that wasn’t

With his three-day fast for peace and harmony, Gujarat CM Narendra Modi may have kicked off a debate about being a serious contender for being BJP’s next PM candidate. Shekhar Iyer and Mahesh Laga report.

delhi Updated: Sep 20, 2011 00:35 IST

With his three-day fast for peace and harmony, Gujarat CM Narendra Modi may have kicked off a debate about being a serious contender for being BJP’s next PM candidate.

But his quick transformation as a moderate leader, if he intended to, didn’t happen though he gave some signals of “genuine mistakes” about the 2002 riots.

As BJP leaders and cadres seemed impressed by his speech and wondered what’s next, social observers saw it as a mere gimmick by him in the run-up to the state polls.

Party leaders, however, saw Modi’s “sadbhavan mission” as a kick off off for his bid to win the Gujarat assembly polls for a third time on a “right note.”

Secondly, as for the talk of Modi as next PM candidate, BJP leaders said the issue did not “matter in the immediate context.” In fact, the next few months may rather see the BJP reach out to its allies and strengthen the NDA, as pointed out by senior party leader Arun Jaitley, BJP sources said.

Even as his critics are back to focusing on the 2002 riots and Modi did not clearly apologise or express regrets for the riots, many BJP leaders saw him sending out a message “in his own style.”

A more explicit expression of regret could not be ruled out at a later stage, they added. Also, Modi did not wish to appear to be falling into an “appeasement trap” for the sake of correcting his image when he was harping that he believed in a new approach.

More importantly, the BJP’s old plank of “justice to all and appeasement of none” is set to stage a comeback in a new format.

“Modi has given a new format to our old line –justice to all and appeasement of none – by showing that his government can care for all citizens without segregating them as minority and majority,” said a BJP leader.

But veteran social observer Achyut Yagnik said,“This is a political stunt enacted to show the support of minorities by bringing them from various parts of the state. It is managed show and people.”

He said mostly Bohras (a Muslim community belonging to Shia sect) attended the show.