Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's remarks that he be publicly hanged if found guilty of Gujarat riots on Thursday drew sharp reactions from Congress Union ministers who said they were made with assembly elections in mind and noted that "kangaroo justice" could not decide on such cases.
"We don't believe in kangaroo justice. Whatever the law is in the country will prevail. Courts will decide. Agencies which are working for the courts will have to decide to place the material before the courts. I don't think that we either in the streets can decide or Modi can take a decision by himself," Law minister Salman Khurshid told reporters in New Delhi.
He said the issue of a person's guilt will be decided by the courts through the laid down norms of jurisprudence.
"This is something that has to be decided by the courts and I am sure all of us - I don't know about him - but we all have faith in the courts of the land and they will do what, they believe, is the right thing to do."
Asked whether the Gujarat CM was trying to 'improve' his image, he said Modi should improve on his conduct, not his image.
HRD minister Kapil Sibal said, "If FIR has not been filed against the chief minister of the state for the last 12 years, how do you hold him guilty, who is going to hang him?"
Sibal felt the statement given by Modi was made keeping the forthcoming Gujarat elections in mind.
"I was surprised to see the statement because you have to follow a procedure before being proved guilty, the statement has been given keeping the Gujarat elections in mind. The reality is justice was not delivered in this (2002 riots) case," Sibal said.
Corporate affairs minister M Veerappa Moily said statements like this were "highly irresponsible and repressive".
"It is for the judiciary to say whether to take steps to punish people. Saying that let them hang me, is highly irresponsible and repressive," he said.
"There is an attempt by this government to defame Gujarat chief minister and the Gujarat government. It is a well- planned conspiracy...to malign the BJP government which is doing good work (in Gujarat) and has put forth Gujarat as a model state in the country," BJP leader Rajnath Singh said in New Delhi.
The former BJP president was reacting to Modi's interview to an Urdu daily where he said he should be hanged if he was found guilty in post-Godhra riots.
Singh said, "No one has held him guilty. No court has held him guilty. There is no question of hanging."
"He is being deliberately troubled by this government. There is an attempt by the Central government to malign him
and Gujarat government."
Singh said such attempts by Congress will not help.
"Despite their best efforts in last ten years they have not been successful in defaming the chief minister and Gujarat," he said.
In an interview to Urdu weekly Nai Duniya, Modi said "...why should I apologise. If my government had done this, I should be hanged in public in such a way that it remains a lesson for the next 100 years so that nobody dares to do it (such a crime)".