After much dilly-dallying and hand wringing the Congress think tank finally mustered up the courage to mention the 2002 Gujarat riots in the election campaign. Its 64 page ‘chargesheet’ against the Narendra Modi government, released on Friday, has dared to assert that the regime continues to display contempt and hatred towards Muslims in the state.
The chargesheet said the Modi administration had offered the riot-affected Muslims only a pittance by way of compensation and these victims still lived in the most miserable conditions.
This open espousal of the riot victims’ cause is a marked departure from the earlier stance of the Congress, which shied away from the issue lest it ended up helping Modi, by “arousing” Hindutva sentiments and the electorate once again.
The Congress was so scared to take up the issue that the recent Tehelka expose showing Modi’s links with the mayhem — far from delighted the party at this unexpected bonanza of propaganda material against the chief minister — had unnerved it. No Congressman has so far mentioned it the poll speeches.
Instead, all the Congress was prepared to take up was the ‘safe’ issue of the chief minister’s record of development, debunking it, and pointing out various failures in bringing bijli, sadak, pani (power, roads and water) to the people.
The Congress chargesheet said Modi and the Gujarat government had literally done nothing to rehabilitate the riot-affected families. As many as 5,307 Muslim families are still languishing in camps at various places, the party claimed.
It was sad that a constitutionally-formed state government had failed to protect the lives and property of Muslims citizens and believed its only duty was to pass on Central assistance to the riot-affected people, the chargesheet commented.
The Modi administration even returned Rs 19 crore of the Rs 150 crore of Central assistance sent for rehabilitation, the party said.
“Whatever rehabilitation has been done is by voluntary, humanitarian and philanthropic organisations, which purchased private land to build houses for the riot-affected people while the state government distributed large chunks of land to industrial houses at throwaway prices,” the chargesheet said.
It added that the chief minister had shown reluctance in honouring the Pathan brothers after their successes in the Twenty20 World Cup final because of his hatred and contempt for Muslims. There are still many riot-affected families who have not been provided any compensation at all, it claimed.
The chargesheet also repeated the Congress’s old allegations about Modi’s developmental claims, pooh-poohing his boast of Gujarat being the number one state in terms of investment and citing statistics of farmers’ suicide and crime rates going up.