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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

Focus on Modi after Ishrat Jahan chargesheet

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times   July 04, 2013
First Published: 00:24 IST(4/7/2013) | Last Updated: 16:16 IST(6/2/2014)

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, as head of BJP's campaign committee for the Lok Sabha polls, will be in Delhi on Thursday for his next round of brainstorming session with party functionaries to outline his strategy for the parliamentary elections.

Subsequently, he is expected to brief the BJP Parliamentary Board, the highest decision making body of the party, on his plans, which are likely to be endorsed.

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However, with the CBI maintaining in its first chargesheet that 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan was killed in a "fake" encounter in 2004 in a joint operation between Gujarat police and the Intelligence Bureau, any strategy he devices is bound to involve ways to counter the negative impact of the chargesheet.

A day before the CBI filed its chargesheet, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh had not minced words against Modi. Singh had alleged that the whole idea of Gujarat police working together with the then joint director of IB was prepare a profile for Modi through fake encounters where he was the "hero" in the minds of all those who believe that acts of terror are being perpetrated only by Muslims.

Furthermore, BJP insiders claim that a few days ago, the media was "fed" with reports that the CBI had in its possession tapes where now-jailed DIG DG Vanzara, is heard telling IB official Rajinder Kumar of the political leaders' consent in the killings. Vanzara is accused of killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauserbi, besides Ishrat.

Though neither Modi nor his trusted aide Amit Shah, who was then home minister were named in the chargesheet, the BJP leaders said Modi would await the CBI's supplementary chargesheet by the end of the month.

As BJP leaders saw it, the government's move to "fix" Modi in the case would have to first overcome the opposition within its ranks, particularly the ministry of home affairs, and contradictory stands taken by the Centre before the courts since the case surface in 2004.

As a result, Modi is expected to time his strategy rather carefully, say BJP insiders. So far, Modi has reportedly asked them to work out a strict regimen for the next 10 months to mobilise public opinion against the Congress and finalise a strategy on various social issues.

He has also asked for steps to mobilise booth-level workers to ensure their readiness ahead of the polls. He has spoken about the importance of social media, saying it could play a key role in 165 parliamentary constituencies to woo young voters.

Instead of a big team, Modi may prefer to go with the team of general secretaries for his plans. Modi's nationwide tour is expected to be finalised after Thursday's meeting, BJP officials said.

After a meeting with BJP general secretaries in June, Modi went to Mumbai to call on a recalcitrant Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and meet Mumbai Maharashtra BJP leaders.

He also addressed his first rally at Madhopur on Punjab-J&K border to mark 60th death anniversary of Jan Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mookerjee on June 23.


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