Jury's out, but 'clean chit' makes Modi camp smile
BJP feels SIT report will silence critics, clear Gujarat CM’s road to Delhi; others say it will be difficult to change perceptions, locally Modi will be a hero, communal image will stay outside. HT reports.india Updated: Feb 10, 2012 01:50 IST
The RK Raghavan-led SIT's report exculpating Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the Gulbarg society massacre will come in handy for the BJP in an election year and can also strengthen his case for prime ministership.
And the state BJP will use this to begin the counter-offensive against civil rights activists who had been in the forefront in carrying on the campaign against Modi.
Modi will use this to buttress his argument that there is nothing against him and no inquiry or investigation team has found anything regarding his alleged involvement in the riots.
The issue of the 2002 riots, in which more than 1,200 people were killed and his government has been consistently accused of abetting them, was proving to be a hindrance in his way to getting a greater role in national politics.
And, this will give the government renewed confidence to argue its case in the alleged fake encounter incidents, which have been plaguing the administration for some time.
Modi tweeted on Thursday "the history of the world is the history of a few men who had faith in themselves".
A Gujarat BJP leader said Modi's "innocence has been established" as even the SC-constituted inquiry team had not found evidence on the allegations. "We always held he is innocent and our stand has been vindicated," said Gujarat BJP general secretary Vijay Rupani.
However, some people still maintain no clean chit from any authority will dispel doubts about his complicity in the riots.
"It is premature to say he has been given the clean chit when the court is yet to examine the report and accept it. It is for the court to decide on the same," a senior lawyer said.
However, a social observer said in Gujarat, a state with a high level of communal polarisation, it was immaterial whether he got the clean chit or was indicted.
"His politics is based on polarisation. He did it in 2002 and again in 2007, when Sonia Gandhi referred to him as ‘maut ka saudagar'. Locally, he will continue to be seen as a hero while outside Gujarat he may be seen as somebody who was responsible for the riots," he said, adding that the SIT clean chit was a technical matter.
Drawing a comparison with Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, who still bear the taint of their alleged involvement in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, he said Modi would always be seen as "anti-Muslim".
Within the sangh parivar too, apprehensions exists.
"Let's not forget he was denied the US visa in 2005, when there was no case or inquiry pending against him. Similarly, the Oman government had issued a public notice clarifying that it had not invited Modi. In India, he was not allowed to campaign in the Bihar assembly polls," a VHP leader said, explaining that the public perception of Modi would not change easily.
SIT access sought
Zakia Jafri and co-complainant Teesta Setalvad, a social activist, have filed an application, seeking access to the SIT report. The hearing will be on Monday.