The Modi government may argue that it seeking death penalty for Maya Kodnani is part of legal procedure,but there is a lot more to the move some of it obvious and some not so much.
Lets begin with the timing of the government decision becoming public,two months after it passed a resolution in this regard in February. It coincides with senior JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar making known his opposition to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate and threatening to part ways on the matter. Soon after this,the chorus for L K Advani as PM was revived within the BJP.
It also coincides with Zakia Jafri filing a protest petition in court which could expose the Special Investigation Teams omissions of evidence regarding how the Modi government did not act on warnings of violence after the Godhra train burning.
Modi may be popular and the BJP might just have him and Hindutva to bank on for 2014,but the CM still needs the BJP to nominate him as its PM candidate. And nothing will help in that as much as Modi managing to wash off his non-secular tag.
What better moment than this for the CM then to let the world know that Gujarat is seeking death penalty for a riot convict who has been a minister in his government. As a senior BJP functionary says,Everybody knows that if Modi wanted,he could have saved her. Look at Amit Shah he is back in mainstream politics. Shah is facing charges of criminal conspiracy in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter,and was recently made BJP general secretary.
There is another aspect to the Modi government apparently turning its back on Kodnani,who had won by a huge margin from her constituency and had been inducted by Modi in his Cabinet following the violence. While Shah is a Modi confidant,Kodnani is known to be a protégé of Advani a small detail in her long career,including as the first woman chief of the BJPs Ahmedabad unit,that has suddenly acquired great importance.
Leena is editor,Ahmedabad