Why did Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, not say anything on immediate disqualification of convicted legislators?
When Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi came out on September 27 against his own party to criticise the ordinance for protecting convicted law-makers, the response from Modi was ridicule for “shahzada (prince)”.
But he was curiously silent on whether the ordinance should actually be torn up and thrown away, as Gandhi suggested at a press conference. The reason is simple. Some of Modi’s aides and too many BJP legislators in Gujarat face the same fate as Lalu Prasad of the RJD and Rasheed Masood of the Congress.
“Of the 182 candidates who got elected in the Gujarat assembly in 2012, 31% or 57 MLAs have criminal cases against them,” said Jagdeep Chhokar of Gujarat Election Watch (GEW).
GEW is an initiative of the Association for Democratic Reforms, set up by professors of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad and civil society members.
According to GEW, of the 57 legislators, 24 have “very serious” charges against them. And among the top 10, six are from the BJP stable. Not only MLAs, sitting BJP MPs, such as Prabhatsinh Chauhan from Panchmahal and Vithal Radadia from Porbandar, are facing serious criminal charges.
The most crucial blow that Modi may have to take if things do not go his way is disqualification of his closest aide, BJP general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh Amit Shah.
A key accused in the confinement and fake encounters of gangster Sohrabuddin, his wife Kauser Bi and accomplice Tulsiram Prajapati, Shah is at present out on bail and campaigning in UP.
One of the CBI lawyers handling Shah’s case — transferred to the Mumbai CBI court so that he could not influence the investigation or the witnesses — said the CBI was likely to approach the Supreme Court for cancelling Shah’s bail.
“Besides the Sohrabuddin case, Shah is also under the CBI scanner for two other fake encounters of Ishrat Jahan and Sadiq Jamal,” said lawyer Mukul Sinha, fighting for the victims’ families.
Ishrat Jahan, a Mumbai college student, and three of her alleged accomplices — Gujarat police claimed they were terrorists — were killed by the police in Ahmedabad in 2004. Sadiq Jamal, also branded as a terrorist, was killed in 2003 by Gujarat police’s crime branch.
Another close Modi associate and former minister, gynaecologist Maya Kodnani, was convicted by a special trial court for leading a mob that killed 97 people in Naroda Patiya during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
What’s more, a senior minister in Modi’s cabinet, Babu Bokhiria, was convicted by a trial court in a `54-crore illegal limestone mining scam this year. Bokhiria continues to be a minister.
Another member of the Modi cabinet, Purushottam Solanki, is facing investigation for allegedly giving away 50 fisheries contracts without going through the tendering process. He hasn’t yet been charged.
Also, the CBI is investigating the role Junagarh MP Dinu Solanki of the BJP allegedly played in the murder of RTI activist Amit Jethwa, who had exposed Solanki and his relatives’ role in an illegal mining scam.
So, since the July 10 order of the Supreme Court has enough firepower to wipe out a considerable portion of Narendra Modi’s mothership, his silence was eloquent.