What is keeping ‘voluble’ Modi away from hooch tragedy sites?

Pre May 16 (before Lok Sabha poll results): Chief Minister Narendra Modi addressed 76 public meetings in 14 days in Gujarat alone,was seen in interviews on 22 television channels and addressed nine press conferences across the country.

Written by BASHIR PATHAN | Gandhinagar | Published:July 11, 2009 1:26 am

Pre May 16 (before Lok Sabha poll results): Chief Minister Narendra Modi addressed 76 public meetings in 14 days in Gujarat alone,was seen in interviews on 22 television channels and addressed nine press conferences across the country.

Post May 16 (after poll results): Number of press briefings– nil; public meetings– nil; statement on the hooch tragedy during Question Hour in the ongoing Assembly session– nil.

On the fourth day of the hooch tragedy,Modi who also holds the home portfolio,keeps quiet,even as the death toll crosses the 100-mark. He has not spoken a word on the issue in the ongoing Budget Session in the Assembly. Nor has he ventured out to meet the victims or check the arrangements in the city hospitals where the victims are admitted

It was a very voluble Modi who spoke on everything pre-LS results – Mumbai terror attacks,Sonia Gandhi’s political abilities,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,Central government’s stand towards Pakistan,alleged indifference to Gujarat in budget allocation,UPA’s ability to take on terrorism and climate change among others. So much so that he was the first one to rush to Mumbai after the 29/11 terror attack.

Now,a quietened Modi sticks to party functions and secretariat. It is just not the hooch tragedy,which has Modi sticking indoors.

Two days after the LS poll results,he had remained indoors,and it was only on his way to Delhi for a party meeting then,he had blamed the media for projecting him as PM aspirant.

It was only on late Thursday night that a statement was released from CM’s residence appealing to the Ahmedabad citizens to maintain peace. The release said,“The unfortunate event that occurred in Ahmedbad has shocked Gujarat,and I personally feel the pangs of it. I convey my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the tragedy.”

Modi did not make an appearance in Gandhinagar’s Town Hall where he was scheduled to be present for a book release function of noted Gujarati actor Upendra Trivedi on Thursday night. Gujarat BJP president Parshottam Rupala who attended the function had little to say on Modi’s low profile.

When asked as to why Modi was shying away from appearing in public ever since the Lok Sabha elections results were out,Rupala first said the CM was regularly attending public meetings. Why did he then not attend the function held at the Town Hall? Rupala said,“Instead of asking me,why (do) not (you) go and ask him?”

A senior BJP leader admitted,“It’s true that our CM should have promptly visited the affected areas and consoled the relatives of poor victims who lost their lives after consuming the killer brew in Ahmedabad. He should have sent at least a couple of his senior ministers to the scene of the tragedy as part of the damage-control exercise.”

Shaktisinh Gohil,the Leader of the Opposition,pointed out that besides Modi,none of his senior ministerial colleagues,including State Home Minister Amit Shah,has cared to visit the hooch tragedy-hit area of Majoor Gam,Odhav and Amraiwadi.

“What is more shocking is that the Amraiwadi area falls under Modi’s Maninagar Assembly constituency,” he said,adding,”It appears the CM is not prepared to face even the voters in his own constituency in this hour of crisis.”

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