Responding to questions during two TV interviews telecast ahead of the largest phase of the Lok Sabha polls on Thursday, Modi stressed that he would not launch a witch hunt against Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra in connection with his controversial land deals.
The Gujarat chief minister also spoke about disposing of criminal cases against MPs within a year’s time and said he should be hanged in the town square if he was found guilty in the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat.
“Let the law take its own course,” Modi said in an interview to TV9 telecast Tuesday when asked about Vadra’s land deals. “There will be no role for Modi or Modi government… Our focus will be positive, to fulfill the pledge made to the public. No government should work with a vindictive mindset. Democracy is not meant for that. Modi, in particular, should never do that.I have faced it for the last 12 years.”
Reacting strongly to questions about his “silence” on the 2002 Gujarat riots, Modi said that if there was any truth in the allegations against him, he should be hanged in the town square and made an example of.
“I am convinced that if there is even a grain of truth in the allegations, I feel, for India’s bright future and traditions, Modi should be hanged in the town square. There should be such exemplary punishment that no one dares commit such a crime for 100 years… If he has committed a crime, Modi should not be pardoned. There should be no apology,” he said in an interview to ANI on Wednesday.
Modi also talked of setting up special courts to check criminalisation in politics.
“What is the solution? That political parties do not give tickets to such people? But frankly, such a situation is not feasible just now. I am determined that candidates, MPs from whichever party, including the BJP, against who cases are already lodged, I will request the Supreme Court to dispose of their cases within a year’s time. So that if they are guilty, they go to jail and vacate the seat for a non-criminal,” Modi said.
He termed the controversial case of taxing telecom giant Vodafone retrospectively as a “breach of trust” and said that it had led to a trust deficit among investors and driven them out.
“If I took any such retrospective steps in my state, we would not have got the confidence of anyone. A breach of trust should not happen…If we change the policy overnight, we will not get the confidence of investors. The crisis of today is that of trust. The whole world wants to invest here but there have been so many ups and downs in policy formation by the government that has made things wrong. If we restore this trust, they will be back,” Modi said.
While the BJP manifesto released last week said the party would revise the country’s nuclear doctrine if it came to power, raising questions on what it meant, Modi said there would be no change in the “no-first-use policy” on nuclear weapons.
“Yeh Buddha ki dharti hai (This is the land of the Buddha). We want the world to be free of conflict. Our requirement is to be powerful but we do not want to suppress anyone with this power and want to use this only for our own defence…The no first use policy was an initiative of Vajpayee and there will be no compromise on that at all. This policy is a part of our ancient tradition,” Modi said.
He also appeared to assume a pragmatic position on India-Pakistan relations but with the caveat that India’s prestige is not attacked in any way.
“In today’s age, it is best to to move ahead. Struggles are not in the interest of anyone. However, we want to live with dignity,” Modi said when asked for his views on India-Pakistan ties.
In the TV9 interview, Modi rejected demands that he apologise for the 2002 riots saying “Congressmen should first account for their sins before asking for accountability from others”.
He also rejected the controversies about his refusal to wear the Muslim skull cap saying he was “opposed to the politics of appeasement” but respected all traditions and would act if someone insults a Muslim wearing the skull cap.
The BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful underlined his opposition to divisive politics on the basis of caste, creed and religion. “I do not accept Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian terminology. Even in Gujarat I talk about six crore Gujaratis and now I talk about 125 crore Indians. I do not accept divisive politics.”
He also said that his contentious “puppy” remark in an interview, thought to refer to Muslims killed in the riots, were being misread.
Targeting sections of the news media, Modi said a distinction must be made between “news traders” and “media”.
“Media’s role is that of a critic…I pray for a strong media and critic for the good of the nation. But there are some who are news traders…we need to clarify to the people who these news traders are, who are sponsored. I am open to criticism, is it possible for any man to be perfect? No.”
Exuding confidence that voters were against a “lame duck” government, the prime ministerial hopeful suggested that the BJP was set to win more than 300 Lok Sabha seats and form the next government.
“The atmosphere is unprecedented. The BJP will win more seats than the maximum number won by any party in the last 25 years. I believe that the public does not want a lame duck government. The mood is building for a strong government with more than 300 seats, with the power to take decisions in Parliament. The educated young generation has played a role and they are involved in a big way to ensure a BJP victory with more than 300 seats,” Modi said.
Modi also sought to defend his close aide Amit Shah, who is in the dock for his controversial statements during campaigning in Uttar Pradesh. Modi claimed Shah had responded to the EC on the allegations against him and praised him for his work. He also denied Shah was his crony and said he had risen in the party on his own merit.
Dismissing suggestions of a personality cult around him taking precedence over the party, Modi claimed he is a “team player”.
“For the last 12-14 years, only one person has been targeted with all kinds of allegations. No one missed any opportunity to castigate me. Is it not a sin to target one individual for all kinds of things? Taking such a negative attitude towards one person also manifests into a vyaktiwad. Those who have done it in the last 12 years, practised individual-centric politics. When they have done it, they are paying a price for it,” Modi said.
Modi refused to talk about his personal position on the BJP’s commitment to build a Ram Temple in Ayodhya. “Whatever is written in the manifesto is the BJP’s official commitment,” he said without elaborating.