Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hang me if I am guilty, Narendra Modi tells Urdu weekly

"Hang me if I am guilty (Main gunehgaar hoon toh mujhe phaansi par latkaa do)." This is what chief minister Narendra Modi has said in his first ever interview to a leading Urdu weekly.

The cover-page interview was conducted by
Shahid Siddiqui, a former Rajya Sabha MP from odd quarters - the Samajwadi Party. It runs into six pages and covers post-Godhra riots, the state of Muslims in Gujarat and other sensitive issues.

In a sign of changing perception on Modi, Siddiqui writes candidly that his decision to interview Modi came after a lunch meeting in Mumbai with two Bollywood biggies filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, who is one of Modi's most vocal critics, and celebrated script writer Salim Khan.

"We were discussing Gujarat at a common friend's place when both Salim saab and Bhatt saab suggested that a dialogue is a must to resolve any issue. I never thought Modi would agree to an interview that focused on post-Godhra riots," Siddiqui, editor of Nai Duniya, told TOI.

It is significant that Modi chose to talk about post-Godhra violence to an Urdu weekly after having walked out of television talkshows when prodded on the riots.

The interview has also led to talks about a possible softening of stance of SP leader
Mulayam Singh Yadav towards Modi. But, Siddiqui quickly rebuts the theory. "This has nothing to do with SP or Netaji. I am a journalist first then a member of a political party," said Siddiqui, who has had stints with the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party in the past.

When contacted, Bhatt confirmed he had adiscussion with Siddiqui at the residence of Gujarati businessman Zafar Sareshwala. "Shahid did his job as a journalist. It will be unfortunate if the write up is used as a PR exercise ," said Bhatt.