As Gujarat Assembly condoled the death of former prime minister and paid homage to senior BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Tuesday, three Congress leaders remembered Vajpayee as, among others, a leader who famously reminded the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to perform ‘Raj Dharma’ during the 2002 post-Godhra riots in the state.
In 2002, during a visit to Ahmedabad in the aftermath of the riots, the then prime minister Vajpayee had asked Modi, then the CM of Gujarat, to perform “Raj Dharma” at a joint press conference, marking a pivotal moment in the entire episode.
As the Assembly convened on Monday for a two-day Monsoon Session, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani tabled a motion to pay homage to Vajpayee, two former state ministers and seven former MLAs who died since the Budget session in March.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani proposed a condolence resolution to condole the deaths of Vajpayee and others.
Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani, while remembering Vajpayee, said, “I can recall the days of 2002. Vajpayeeji was a man who used to preach what he practised. He believed that a person can do any sort of competition in the field of election. One may win, one may lose, but after assuming a post, he or she becomes a representative of all. And he had given a message to the then CM (Modi) that a representative of the people should follow Raj Dharma.”
The Congress leader also said that Vajpayee was an “all-inclusive” leader who was acceptable to all parties.
Deputy Leader of Opposition Shailesh Parmar also took the opportunity to invoke Vajpayee’s famous comment while recalling him as a leader who called a spade a spade.
“He was a ‘Spasht Vakta’. In 2002, he had asked the then chief minister Narendrabhai to perform Raj Dharma. And he said this not in a closed room or privately, but in front of all the mediapersons of the country,” Parmar said.
Congress MLA from Dariapur constituency Gyasuddin Sheikh also referred to Vajpayee’s Raj Dharma comment and said that while the latter followed the Hindu ideology, he had reminded the then chief minister (Narendra Modi) of performing Raj Dharma.
Speaker Rajendra Trivedi said the country was Vajpayee’s first love. “He lived for the country, he was an ardent patriot. We can see that from his poems,” he said.
Several BJP leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and state BJP president Jitu Vaghani, also paid tribute to Vajpayee. They remembered Vajpayee for his role in Jan Sangh, his role during the Emergency, his role as an opposition leader in the Parliament, his support to Gujarat in speedy implementation of Narmada Yojana and helping hand after the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, etc.
The House also paid homage to its nine former members who died recently. They included Amarsinh Vaghela, Harilal Patel, Shankardas Makwana, Narsinh Padhiyar, Mohammed Hafeji Patel, Manibhai Chaudhari, Iqbal Patel, Gulsing Rathva and Arvindsinh Rathod.
After paying homage, the House was adjourned for the day.