Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blow for Modi as polls draw close

Ajay Umat TNN

Ahmedabad: The ghost of Godhra continues to haunt Narendra Modi even as he sets his eyes on a larger political role. And, for this astute politician known for his impeccable sense of timing, time seems to be running out fast.
    Barely 100 days to go for the assembly polls, the series of convictions in several riot cases have only aggravated Modi's credibility crisis. He may have got a clean chit for his alleged role in the riots, but the association with BJP leaders like Maya Kodnani can't only trip his journey towards the Centre but also spell trouble for him in the polls.
    Modi, who has tried to drop his hardliner tag through state-wide sadbhavana missions, is under threat of upsetting the Hindu vote bank if he welcomes the verdicts. If he doesn't, there is fear that his sadbhavana talks may ring hollow.
    The verdicts, especially in Naroda Patia, are expected to provide the much-needed ammunition, not only to Congress but also Modi's own critics within the NDA and Sangh Parivar who are itching to keep him out of the prime ministerial race.
    Leading the charge is VHP, which has been on a collision course with Modi for the past few years. Much before the saffron outfit frowned at his sadbhavna mission, its leaders were enraged at the demolition of temples in Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad. VHP leader Pravin Togadia on Friday condemned the verdict and offered his outfit's full support to all convicted. “VHP will support with all its might all the Hindus convicted in the case,” he told reporters.
    Meanwhile, Modi's bĂȘte noire Keshubhai Patel is threatening to divide the politically influential Patels. To make matters worse, sources say VHP may support Patel in a full-fledged manner making things difficult for Modi.
Relief for policemen accused of inaction
The Naroda Patia verdict has come as a relief for several police officers, including former DGP P C Pande. While pronouncing the verdict, judge Jyotsna Yagnik rejected a plea by victims to arraign them in the Naroda Patia case under Section 319 CrPC and try them for dereliction of duty and inaction during the violence. Citing testimonies and call details furnished by IPS officer Rahul Sharma, the witnesses demanded criminal prosecution of Pande who was then Ahmedabad city police commissioner, then joint commissioner of police M K Tandon, DCP (Zone IV) P B Gondia, inspectors of Naroda K K Mysorewala and V S Gohil. However, the SC-appointed SIT, the prosecuting agency, opposed the demand and gave a clean chit to all the cops. TNN