July 13, 2013 1:30:08 am
Excerpts from an interview Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi gave to Reuters.
Is it frustrating that many people still define you by 2002?
Frustration comes when you think I got caught. I was stealing and I got caught. Thats not my case.
Do you regret what happened?
Indias Supreme Court is considered a good court today in the world. It created a special investigative team comprising top,very bright officers. In its report,I was given a thoroughly clean chit,a thoroughly clean chit… if someone else is driving a car and were sitting behind,and 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.
Should your government have responded differently?
Up till now,we feel we used our full strength to set out to do the right thing.
But do you think you did the right thing in 2002?
Absolutely. However much brainpower the Supreme Being has given us,however much experience Ive got,and whatever I had available in that situation. This is what the SIT had investigated.
Do you believe India should have a secular leader?
We do believe that . But what is the definition of secularism? For me,secularism is India first. The philosophy of my party is Justice to all. Appeasement to none. This is our secularism.
Critics say you are an authoritarian,supporters say you are a decisive leader. Who is the real Modi?
If you call yourself a leader,you have to be decisive. If youre decisive,then you have the chance to be a leader. These are two sides of the same coin . People want him to make decisions. Only then they accept the person as a leader. That is a quality,its not a negative. The other thing is,if someone was an authoritarian,how would he be able to run a government for so many years? . Without a team effort how can you get success? And thats why I say Gujarats success is not Modis success. This is the success of Team Gujarat.
What about the suggestion that you dont take criticism?
There is a vast difference between criticism and allegations. For criticism,you have to research,youll have to compare things,youll have to come with data,factual information. Now no one is ready to do the hard work. So the simple way is to make allegations. In a democracy,allegations will never improve situations. So,Im against allegations but I always welcome criticism.
Allies and people within the BJP say you are too polarising a figure.
If in America,if theres no polarisation between Democrats and Republicans,then how would democracy work? Its bound to happen. This is democracys basic nature,its basic quality. If everyone moved in one direction,would you call that a democracy?
How will you persuade minorities including Muslims to vote for you?
First thing,to Indias citizens,to voters,Hindus and Muslims,Im not in favour of dividing. Im not in favour of dividing Hindus and Sikhs. Im not in favour of dividing Hindus and Christians. All citizens,all voters,are my countrymen. I dont address this issue like this. And that is a danger to democracy also. Religion should not be an instrument in your democratic process.
People say economic development in Gujarat is hyped up.
In a democracy,who is the final judge? The final judge is the voter. If this was just hype,if this was all noise,then the public would see it every day. Narendra Modi said he would deliver water. But then he would say Modi is lying. The water hasn’t reached. Then why would he like Narendra Modi? In Indias vibrant democracy,and in the presence of vibrant political parties,if someone chooses him for the third time,and he gets close to a two-third majority,then people feel what is being said is true.
People want to know who is the real Modi Hindu nationalist leader or pro-business chief minister?
I’m nationalist. I’m patriotic. Nothing is wrong. I’m a born Hindu. Nothing is wrong. So,I’m a Hindu nationalist so yes,you can say I’m a Hindu nationalist because I’m a born Hindu. I’m patriotic so nothing is wrong in it. As far as progressive,development-oriented,workaholic,whatever they say,this is what they are saying. So there’s no contradiction between the two. It’s one and the same image.