Union home Minister Shivraj Patil stepped up Delhi’s goodwill mission, moving from saying “no” to the blame game of political one-upmanship initiated by the BJP to praising the Gujarat government for steps to see that the bombs that scarred Ahmedabad do not trigger a backlash.
Delhi also rushed hundreds of central security personnel to Gujarat to ensure that Chief Minister Narendra Modi has all the hands he needs to keep troublemakers away. A Union Home Ministry official said the Modi government had asked for a few hundred more and the Centre would deliver on this demand too.
“The most important thing today is to see that peace and tranquillity in Gujarat is not disturbed, peace and tranquillity in any part of the country is not disturbed,” Patil said after meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the top brass of the security establishment, including Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta and National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan.
Patil said the state government was taking steps to see that no mischief is perpetrated and nothing is done to derail peace.
Singh and Patil plan to visit Ahmedabad, possibly on Monday, to review the situation and reassure Gujarat that Delhi was with them in their hour of tragedy.
After meeting Singh, Patil said the Centre was “very sorry for what has happened yesterday. Our hearts go out to the families of those who have suffered”.
“We have no doubts in our minds that the state government will help them. The government of India will also help them fully. We will like to reduce their difficulties and reduce their agony.”
“In the past when incidents of this nature have happened, people have wisely behaved and … I have no doubts this will happen in this case also,” Patil, improving on his Saturday’s performance when he refused to play the blame game with BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Modi.
Advani had blamed the Congress-led coalition for failing to bring in stringent anti-terror laws like Pota, Modi had reminded Delhi that it had been sitting for four years on its version of Pota.
Singh and Patil clearly are not the only ones harbouring the fear of a backlash if political parties do not behave responsibly.