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If you worship Hitler, you'll see Hitler (Interview/Narendra Modi, Gujarat chief minister)

If you worship Hitler, you'll see Hitler (Interview/Narendra Modi, Gujarat chief minister)

Author: Anosh Malekar
Publication: The Week
Date: May 12, 2002

Q.: In spite of all the uproar, violence is continuing in Gujarat. It was reported that the Ahmedabad police commissioner came under attack a few days ago. Don't you think this indicates a colossal failure on the part of the government?
A.: No, that is not true. Out of more than 18,000 villages in Gujarat, hardly 60 or 70 villages have been affected. Many of the recent incidents are being done purposefully to discredit the government. A few such elements tried to disrupt the peace at a few police stations in Ahmedabad and Vadodara. Some workers from the Congress also resorted to violence to disturb the students' examinations.

Q.: The Prime Minister openly asked you to observe raj dharma. Does this not show that he is dissatisfied with your performance as chief minister?
A.: Only a part of the statement made by the Prime Minister has been reported. The Prime Minister had also mentioned that "I am confident that Modi-ji is following raj dharma". A lot can be inferred about the intentions of the media from this reporting of half-truths.

Q.: Do you think you are being unnecessarily vilified by the national media?
A.: I would not like to criticise the media. It is up to them to decide.

Q.: The Goa meeting of the BJP gave the indication that the party is returning to its Hindutva agenda.
A.: We discussed different issues pertaining to peace, non-violence and security for a border state like Gujarat. It is unfortunate that distorted versions of these discussions are being published.

Q.: The Gujarat incidents have dented the image of the country. Many western nations and media have strongly criticised India. What do you feel about this?
A.: The image of India reaches the world through the media. So it is up to the media to decide what image they want to portray to the world.

I recall the incident at Dangs (communal violence). Though not a single person died or was hospitalised as a result of the incident, attempts were made to tarnish the names of BJP and the state of Gujarat.

In sharp contrast is America. When the terrorist attacks happened, the US television did not show any bodies. But in Gujarat, bodies were shown on TV channels all over the world, thus rousing further frenzy.

Q.: Many intellectuals and activists have compared you to Hitler and Slobodan Milosevic. On the other hand, some have compared you to Sardar Patel.
A.: One always sees the image of the person one believes in, in the other person. If you worship Hitler, then you will see Hitler. Those who believe in Sardar Patel will see his image in others. This is all dependent on one's beliefs and views.

Q.: Fact-finding teams have reported that the Gujarat riots were not spontaneous, but a part of a planned conspiracy by the Sangh parivar.
A.: These people are behaving like self-appointed judges. They are the same people who have been opposing the Sardar Sarovar Project for the last 10 years. They are the same people who tried to defame Gujarat by propagating false stories about plague when there was no epidemic in Surat. They are the same people who tried to sully the image of India using the Dangs incident.

Why can't these self-appointed judges be patient and wait for the report of the judicial inquiry commission? Their intentions are to marginalise the Godhra carnage. But they will not succeed in their motives.

Q.: Certain comments you made during the course of the Gujarat developments have created much controversy. Do you regret them now?
A.: Many articles have been written on the statements allegedly made by me. But neither have I ever mentioned the name "Newton" nor have I uttered the words "action-reaction".

In spite of sending many letters to the chief editor of The Times of India regarding this, they have not enlightened the masses on this.

Q.: Many NDA allies have criticised you strongly and some have sought your removal. Do you think it is justified?
A.: Everyone has a right to work on their agenda in a democracy.

Q.: The transfers of some of the police officers who were reportedly effective in handling the riots have sent a negative message. Will it not prevent the police from acting impartially?
A.: This is a baseless and false allegation. The transfers were purely an administrative exercise. The promotions were long overdue. Such an exercise leads to changes normally. Such changes are effected in March-April when the academic session comes to an end. It is unfortunate that a political colour has been given to this exercise.

Q.: Why was the decision to go to snap polls retracted?
A.: Your information is not true. I have always maintained that my priority is to provide relief to the riot affected people.

Q.: Don't you feel that the organised attack on Muslims in Gujarat will create a fertile ground for Islamic extremists in the state?
A.: No. It would be unwise and illogical on our part to draw such a conclusion. According to this logic, would not the Kashmiri Pandits, who have spent their youth in relief camps, have resorted to terrorist activities? If this is the logic, then how would you justify the terrorist attack in Godhra, which occurred without any provocation?

The Godhra carnage was an attack on one community. But both the communities were involved in the group violence that erupted thereafter.

Q.: Sections of the national media have speculated that the Hindu community in Gujarat is highly communalised. Do you agree with this observation?
A.: Such false judgments would be an insult of the five crore Gujarati people. Gujarat is the state where the Parsis settled when they came from Iran. Gujarat is a region influenced by India's great traditions-harmony, nonviolence and equality.

Q.: Top industrialists have spoken out strongly against your government. Will Gujarat be able to attract any investment after what has happened?
A.: The pace of industrial development in Gujarat has not been affected by the Godhra incident. The internationally renowned company, Shell, has entered into an agreement with the Gujarat government and it will bring in foreign investment of Rs 5,200 crore for the creation of basic infrastructure facilities in the development of Hazira Port and gas-based industries. General Motors, too, will be investing over Rs 500 crore for expanding its business.

During this period, nationalised banks of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar have done cheque clearings of Rs 26,000 crore. Truck transport has not faced any obstacles with all 19,841 state transport routes operating normally. All these facts disclose that economic growth has not been strangled.

Q.: Don't you think that the minorities in Gujarat would have felt more secure if you had visited the refugee camps and assured them of protection?
A.: You have been given false information. My colleagues in the ministry, senior officials and I have been frequently visiting the relief camps. Officers at the secretary level have been put in charge of relief operations. In addition, under the chairmanship of the Governor, the All-Party Committee has been reviewing the relief work of the affected persons.

I dislike the words majority-minority. But in the context of the false propaganda that is going on, I am compelled to say that officers from the minority community have been assigned special duties for the relief of the affected people.

Q.: What are the assurances you can give the nation on Gujarat's future?
A.: My government is committed to the Constitution of India and we will fulfil our Constitutional responsibility. Gujarat is a border state. When traitors to the country terrorise Gujarat we will not allow them to succeed. All those involved in the killing of innocent people shall be punished.

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