Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi knows how to turn adversity into opportunity. He is doing exactly that with the Supreme Court directive against him — using it to mobilise Hindu votes in the state, which votes on Thursday.
Speaking at rallies across the state on the final day of campaigning on Tuesday, Modi accused the Congress of conspiring to send him to jail.
“Union minister Kapil Sibal had given a threat that if I did not stop talking against Congress I would end up in jail. Just after 15 days the order has come from the Supreme Court,” said Modi, according to PTI.
He added, “What does this mean? This is a Congress conspiracy to send me behind bars.”
The Supreme Court on Monday instructed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe allegations against him and 62 others of involvement in Gujarat riots of 2002.
“I will abide by the Supreme Court directives and fully cooperate in any probe. I am willing to go to jail if my involvement is proved by the SIT in the (post) Godhra riots,” he said addressing a public meeting in Anand.
Modi was not likely to let the order bring him down. In fact, he was trying to turn it into an advantage much as he did with the fake encounter of an alleged criminal Sohrabuddin in the 2007 assembly elections.
Having swung the 2002 polls riding the riots, Modi switched to development issues in 2007. The Congress was expected to do well and then came that remark from Sonia Gandhi.
Sonia called Modi “maud ka soudagar” (a merchant of death), and that’s exactly what he proceeded to be for the Congress — he crushed it. The BJP won 117 of the 182 seats.
The state Congress leaders know. When contacted for comments, most of them begged off saying the matter was sub-judice (under litigation). Their national leaders have gone to town on the court order.
The state BJP unit also knows. It launched an SMS campaign to polarise the Hindu votes.
“Gujarat ke bete ko jail, aur ke bhai ko bail? (Jail for the son of Gujarat, bail for the brother of someone else).
While political analysts agreed the BJP and Modi would want to make the court order work in their favour, they were not sure if they will succeed as polling was just a day away.
“Unlike during the assembly elections, the time is too short for Modi to capitalise the issue,” said Ghanshyam Shah, Ahmedabad-based political analyst and retired JNU professor.