Finance Minister P Chidambaram does not think that Narendra Modi has been given clean chit by courts in 2002 Gujarat riots and says the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate has steadfastly refused to acknowledge his "moral and political accountability" for them.
He says it was disappointing that Modi was unwilling to "apologise" for the riots. The undercurrent of his cross- country campaign is majoritarianism and Congress will give a befitting reply to it, says Chidambaram.
"No, I don't think so. There are two aspects to what happened in 2002. One is legal culpability. The other is moral and political accountability. On the first, the matter is still in court. A court has accepted an SIT report but that has been challenged in a higher court. But I won't say anything more on that.
"But on the second, I am absolutely clear in my mind that the political and moral accountability rests with the Chief Minister. He was Chief Minister for several months when it happened. Yet in the last 12 years, he has refused to acknowledge his moral and political accountability. And what is more disappointing is his unwillingness to even utter the words -- I apologise," he told PTI in an interview here.
Chidambaram was asked whether he believed Modi has been finally cleared of all charges by courts in the 2002 riots.
When asked about his reference to majoritarianism in his Budget speech and whether India's multi-religious and diverse society could come under attack from him, the Finance Minister said, "If Mr Modi defends majoritarianism, we will give him a befitting reply. Majoritarianism is not a way of governance.
Majoritarianism is opposed to the democratic way of governance."
To a question whether he saw any change in Modi in his campaign, Chidambaram shot back, "Of course, the undercurrent is majoritarianism. Please read his speeches carefully. The undercurrent is majoritarianism. The unstated premise of his approach is majoritarianism. And more than that is also I, Me and Mine. Has he made a single speech without I, Me, Mine theme running through it."
Asked if Modi has not changed a bit, Chidambaram said he does not read every word of his speech and reads only what is reported in the newspapers.
"From what I gather, I think he is pushing an agenda based on majoritarianism and I, Me and Mine theory," he said.
To a question if Modi was a danger to the idea of India, Chidambaram said, "Nobody can destroy the idea of India, much less Mr Modi. The RSS could not destroy the idea of India. The idea of India will survive. It is too strong an idea to be killed by one political outfit or one political leader." Asked how he saw Modi as Prime Minister, the Minister said he did not know his views on many matters.
"He has not spoken on many matters. He has never addressed a press conference. I have raised a few questions -- what are his views on fiscal deficit, what is his philosophy on fiscal deficit, revenue deficit. What is his stand on monetary policy.
"Does he believe in GST because I know Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat were the ones who had opposed the GST. Does he support the reforms of direct taxes. Will he support the DTC," he said.
These are question, Chidambaram said, that Modi should answer. And there will be more questions as the days go by.
"Because if you are a Prime Ministerial candidate, you must articulate your position on a number of matters clearly and cogently. You can't get away with one-liners," he said.