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by Saima Alvi
07 April 2002 19:27 UTC
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07 April 2002  Sunday  

'Modi tried to exploit riots' 
By Jawed Naqvi 
NEW DELHI, April 6: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, widely suspected 
of conniving with Hindu mobs to massacre Muslim civilians in a five-week-
old and as yet unabated frenzied violence against the minority community , 
had considered holding snap polls to benefit from the communal 
polarization, the NDTV channel said in an exclusive report on Saturday. 

The channel's senior correspondent, Rajdeep Sardesai, said he had clinching 
evidence that Modi probed the possibility of elections way ahead of the 
polls ordinarily due only in February next year. 

"NDTV now has clinching evidence that the Narendra Modi government in 
Gujarat had serious plans for a snap poll right after the recent riots in 
the state," Sardesai reported even as news trickled in of five more deaths 
since the night in the communal upsurge. 

"In fact", the reporter said, "the BJP had done a survey to find out 
whether they would gain votes in the current situation. Till now Modi had 
been dismissing such reports as canards spread by his opponents." 

The document dated March 17 shows that the state BJP had gone through an 
elaborate exercise to gauge the public mood and plan for early elections 
with Modi personally supervising it. 

Three senior BJP leaders were sent to each district with a four-page 
questionnaire to assess whether the party workers felt the situation was 
ripe for an election. The questions were: Will early elections benefit the 
BJP? In which constituencies will they benefit? Will be able to translate 
the current mood into votes in an election? After the Godhra tragedy, what 
is the mood among our workers? What impact are the riot-related arrests 
having on our workers, and how will it affect elections? 

"Top BJP sources in Gujarat said that the feedback was positive, and at a 
meeting in Gandhinagar on March 18, Modi had stated that he was in favour 
of a snap poll," Sardesai said. When Modi was asked about snap poll, he 
initially denied his role in this election exercise, and then threw the 
ball in Prime Minister Vajpayee's court. 

"The prime minister's word is final on this. I did not ask him about the 
snap poll, I'm only focusing on relief operations in the state. I have no 
role in this, the prime minister's word is final," Modi said. 

Indeed, it appears that only after a meeting with the prime minister in 
Delhi two weeks ago, that Modi was made to abandon his election plan, with 
Vajpayee making it clear that rebuilding Gujarat should be the chief 
minister's top priority. Meanwhile, three people were killed when police 
fired to disperse clashing groups of Hindus and Muslims and two people were 
stabbed to death in Ahmedabad. Authorities imposed an indefinite curfew in 
Watva and Sabarmati areas of Ahmedabad city. Curfew has been clamped in 30 
areas in the state. 

Sporadic violence has continued even after the prime minister made an 
anguished plea during visit to the state on Thursday to end the 
bloodletting and "stop the poison of religious violence." 

Official estimates put the death toll at 825, but non-governmental groups 
say it could be more than 2,000. 

It seems while Modi planned to hold elections, reports from Gujarat spoke 
of the threat of starvation that looms large in violence-hit Ahmedabad 
where people are forced to live a life of virtual imprisonment inside their 
respective colonies. 

"I am still scared to go out of the colony," complained Safi Bhai of Shah-e-
Alam area, which the prime minister visited two days ago. The forced 
isolation of the people has resulted in acute food shortage in many areas. 

The callousness of the BJP's Gujarat administration is taking its toll on 
the prime minister's credibility with his own coalition partners, who 
privately admit that the violence in Gujarat has irretrievably damaged the 
national image, alienated many of them from their Muslim constituency and 
resulted in a sharp drop in foreign investment in the country. 

"Earlier this week, when the Andhra Pradesh cabinet met in Hyderabad, 
several ministers told Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu it was time the 
Telugu Desam Party consider severing its links with the BJP," one report 

Saima Alvi
Research Assistant
Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)
Opposite Sector U, DHA, Lahore-54792
Tel.: 5722670-79; Ext.: 2165

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