Should Narendra Modi apologise? If so, for what?
It is thought that if he says sorry, and accepts his responsibility for the events in Gujarat of 2002, he and his constituents can move on. However, he has chosen not to do this.
On a panel with me on NDTV last week, actress and BJP supporter Kiron Kher said Modi in fact wanted to be hanged if found guilty, so where was the question of an apology?
Her reference was to something Modi said in an interview to Shahid Siddiqui, editor of the Urdu magazine Nai Duniya.
I looked at the original interview to see the exact language used by Modi, and what the context was. After reading it I suspect Siddiqui has replaced some words Modi used. For instance, Modi is quoted in one place as using the word “ain” (for constitution) when it is likely he used “samvidhaan”. But let’s assume the words are more or less accurate.
The specific reference comes after Siddiqui asks this question: “Why not apologise for the riots when you were responsible as head of the administration?”
The relevant part of Modi’s reply is: “2004 mein main ne ek interview mein kaha tha ke mujhe maaf kyon karna chahiye? Agar meri sarkar ne ye sab karaya hai, to use beech chorahe par phansi lagni chahiye. Aur aisi phansi deni chahiye ke aglay 100 saal tak kisi hukumraan ko aisa paap karne ki himmat na ho.” (I said this in 2004: Why forgive me? If my government was responsible for doing all this, it should be hanged in exemplary manner).
“Jo log maaf karne ki baat kar rahe hain, woh gunah ko badhawa de rahe hain. Agar Modi ne gunah kiya hai to usey phansi par latka do. Lekin imandari say koshish karne ke bawajood agar siyasi wajuhat ki buniyad par Modi ko gali deni hai, to uska mere paas koi jawab nahin hai.” (Those seeking to pardon me are actually promoting crime. If Modi is guilty, hang him. But if, despite an honest attempt, you want to abuse Modi out of political rivalry, I can’t really do anything).
This is fine and such theatrical lines are acceptable in India. When I visited him in jail in 1995 Sanjay Dutt gave me a letter saying he should be shot at the crossroads if he was guilty (the court did in fact find him guilty, I must remind Sanjay).
Anyway, the question to be asked in Modi’s case is: Guilty of what? Is there something for which we can say without doubt that he is guilty?
Here’s my list.
- Investigating the riots cases so shoddily that the Supreme Court had to send in a special team that finally secured convictions. As home minister, a portfolio he held then and now, Modi is personally responsible here.
- Persecuting police officers like Rahul Sharma who acted against BJP and RSS rioters.
- Provoking, there is no other word for this, hatred by using words like “Mian” to describe Ahmed Patel. Gujaratis use the word in contempt, and it should not have been used like this.
Modi assumes in the interview that people are only accusing him and his ministers of personally participating in the riots. I’m not accusing him of that, even though his minister Mayaben Kodnani has been convicted and sentenced to 28 years in jail for it.
His record shows his incompetence at running the home ministry and his cruelty in persecuting honest, noble officers.
He should apologise for that, because he is guilty of it.