On Tuesday,Becharaji will receive Chief Minister Narendra Modi with a sense of deja vu. It was here on September 9,2002,that Modi had made the controversial remark of Ame paanch,amaara pachees (we 5 our 25),apparently referring to Muslims. He was then speaking on the second day of the Gaurav Yatra (procession of pride) taken out a few months after the Godhra carnage and the riots that followed.
Tuesday,he launches the Vivekananda Yuva Vikas yatra from this pilgrimage town in Mehsana district. The yatra will end at Sanand,home to Tata Motors Nano car,by evening.
The paanch-ka-pachees remark landed Modi in a bit of trouble with the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) calling for the exact text of his speech. The state intelligence branch headed by retired DGP R B Sreekumar in 2002 had prepared a report with a remark that the speeches were inflammatory and hurt the feelings of the minority community and sent it to the NCM on September 13,2002. Four days later,Sreekumar was transferred out of the intelligence branch.
In March 2010,the Supreme Court-appointed SIT,in its marathon session questioning Modi while investigating charges made by Zakia Jafri against the CM Modi and 61 others,had reproduced the text of his Becharaji speech of 2002 and asked Modi if he was referring to Muslims.
Modi had told the investigators his speech did not refer to any particular religion or community. This was a political speech in which I tried to point out the increasing population of India, Modi had told SIT,adding that his speech had been distorted by interested elements. He had also said that no riots or tension took place after my election speech.
Even the SIT,at one point,was divided on the implications of this speech. DIG A K Malhotra,who carried out preliminary investigations on Jafris complaint,noted,The explanation given by Modi is unconvincing and it definitely hinted at the growing minority population.
However,SIT chief R K Raghavan,in his final report in April this year,cleared Modi and said,No criminality has come on record in aspect of the allegation.
Ten years later,Maruti Suzuki is setting up its third car plant at Hansalpur,less than two kms from Becharaji,known for the deity by the same name who is revered especially by eunuchs.
Modis yatra,on its first day,will cover Modhera,Kadi,Chanasma and end at Sanand. The month-long yatra is expected to cover 125 Assembly constituencies.