Describing himself as a Hindu nationalist,Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has said that he had done absolutely the right thing in 2002 when more than 1,000 people were killed in communal riots in the state.
Asked in an interview by Reuters if he regretted what had happened,Modi said the Supreme Court had created a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the report of this team had given him a thoroughly clean chit.
Responding to another question on whether it was frustrating when many people defined him by 2002,Modi said he would feel guilty if he had done something wrong. Everyone has his own view. Frustration comes when you think I got caught. I was stealing and I got caught. Thats not my case, he said.
Modi compared his feelings with the occupant of a car involved in an accident when asked if he regretted the violence of 2002.
If someone else is driving a car and were sitting behind,even then if a puppy comes under the wheel,will it be painful or not? Of course it is… If Im a chief minister or not,Im a human being… If something bad happens anywhere,it is natural to be sad, he said.
Modi said he described himself as a Hindu nationalist because he was born Hindu: I am nationalist. Im patriotic. Nothing is wrong. I am a born Hindu. Nothing is wrong. So Im a Hindu nationalist so yes,you can say Im a Hindu nationalist because Im a born Hindu.
The puppy analogy triggered a political controversy with Modis rivals taking on him.
While maintaining that his remarks were totally against the idea of India,Congress general secretary Ajay Maken asked Modi to immediately apologise to the country. Thousands of people were killed in communal riots in Gujarat in 2002. There is no place for such a comparison in civilised India, Maken said.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Modi was gradually becoming his own worst enemy. He advised Modi to talk less if he felt he was being misinterpreted.
Janata Dal (U) spokesman Shivanand Tiwari suggested Modi should undergo a psycho-analysis test and said it could be very dangerous if such a person becomes the countrys prime minister. Tiwari,whose party parted ways with the BJP over Modi being named as the BJPs 2014 poll campaign panel chief,also said that Modi was being too callous to compare loss of human lives in Gujarat riot with those of a puppy coming under car.
Modis real character is now coming through. By admitting that he is a Hindu nationalist,he is giving enough indications of pursuing the RSS agenda of Hindu rashtrawad, Tiwari said.
Senior CPI leader A B Bardhan said Modi could not absolve himself of his responsibility as he was at the helm of affairs when the riots took place. If this is how chief ministers talk about their responsibilities,they are playing tricks with the people, Bardhan said.
Referring to the puppy remark,he asked: Was he an innocent passenger in the car? Who was driving the car? The chief minister sits in the car and he does not know who the driver is?
CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat said an expression of regret just doesnt come to Modi. There is something fundamentally wrong with what he is saying.
Taking exception to the puppy analogy,Samajwadi Party spokesman Kamal Farooqui said,It is a very sad,very humiliating and very disturbing statement. What does he think,Muslims are worse than even puppies? Modi should be ashamed of using such language. He should feel sorry. The earlier he apologises,the better it will be. Otherwise,there will be dangerous consequences.
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman,however,defended Modi,and said his comments had been completely misinterpreted,leading to a controversy where it does not exist.
Later in the evening,Modi himself responded to the controversy and tweeted the link to my original interview with Reuters. In our culture every form of life is valued & worshipped. People are best judge, he added in the tweet. With inputs from ENS,Patna