The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, said on Wednesday that a government under him would not be “vindictive”. Having suffered for 12 years due to vindictive politics, he said, he wouldn’t do the same to others — an oblique reference to charges leveled at him in connection with the 2002 riots.
The remarks came in the backdrop of some BJP leaders, such as Uma Bharti, threatening Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra with arrest if the NDA came to power. At his public meetings, Modi has been unsparing in his criticism of Vadra for “dubious” land deals.
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In separate interviews to private television channel TV9 and news agency Asian News International (ANI), the Gujarat strongman came across as a much-mellowed politician, a sharp contrast to the tough image he projects at his rallies. He spoke at length on the allegations around the riots and his politics, his plans for special courts to try tainted politicians swiftly, and the BJP’s rationale for abrogation of Article 370 that gives J&K special status. He also declared the NDA would retain the no-first-use policy for nuclear weapons — as first reported by HT on Monday.
Modi said he was “very hurt” by the allegations over the riots but made it clear that he, unlike the Congress, was not game for minority appeasement.
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Asked why he never wore a skull cap, he said he would not “wear a symbol of appeasement for a photo-op”. He went on to ask, “Does Sonia Gandhi wear a skull cap?”
Rejecting suggestions that he hadn’t spoken on the riots, the 63-year-old told Smita Prakash of ANI, “I was not silent, I answered every top journalist in the country from 2002 to 2007, but noticed there was no exercise to understand truth.”
Accusing unknown entities of creating conspiracies allegedly linking him to the tragedy, Modi maintained that if the media had not worked to malign him, then no one would have known of him.
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He also sought to dispel the view that Muslims were afraid of him coming to power and this fear could lead to polarisation of votes in key constituencies such as Varanasi, from where he is contesting. “I am not going there (Varanasi) to defeat anyone, but to win hearts. Once I meet them all, they will love me,” he said.
Modi predicted the results on May 16 would bring “the worst performance in the Congress’ history and the BJP and NDA’s best performance”.
He was quick to dismiss that he was politically untouchable, pointing that it was unprecedented in India’s history that a pre-poll alliance (the NDA as it is now) included 25 parties.