Business, Finance & Economics

Controversial Narendra Modi fasts as prelude to prime minister run


India's Gujarat state Chief Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a ceremony concluding his three-day fast in Ahmedabad on September 19, 2011. Indian Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi ended a three-day fast seen as an attempt to bury his controversial past and promote him as a serious prime ministerial contender.



Talk about insult to injury.  


As controversial Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi capped off a three-day fast meant to celebrate the whitewashing of his image -- tarnished by his alleged sanction of the 2002 ethnic riots that killed more than a thousand Muslims in Ahmedabad -- state police swept in on protesting riot victims, beating some with canes and arresting others.

Don't spoil my parade was the message, I guess.

Civil rights activists condemned the detention of the riot victims who were protesting against Modi's fast -- viewed as a cynical move to grab headlines and convince the rest of the Bharatiya Janata Party that the Gujarat chief minister is ready for a run at the prime minister's office, reports the Times of India.  On Sunday, Gujarat police detained more than 50 activists and riot victims, the paper said.

Modi has earned accolades from industrialists, who like that he's made the trains run on time in Gujarat, so to speak. But critics say that the BJP is tripping if they think a recent Supreme Court ruling puts an end to the controversial leader's legal troubles.

India's Tehelka magazine explains their case as good as anybody:

The 600-page inquiry report filed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) before the Supreme Court last November has chronicled dozens of instances to establish that Modi’s conduct during and after the riots was partisan, communal and influenced by political and communal agenda. The debate now is whether Modi’s acts of omission and commission could be nailed in a court of law. And the challenge staring at the SIT is to correctly interpret the legal material facts and decide its future course of action. The Indian judicial system itself will be put through a litmus test as the case against Modi proceeds hereafter.

There are only two logical possibilities. Either the SIT will file a chargesheet against Modi and others and accuse them of hatching a larger conspiracy, or the probe agency will file a closure report, saying that they could not find prosecutable evidence against the Gujarat chief minister.

But even in the second scenario, the Supreme Court has ensured that the riot victims would get a chance to present their case before the trial court and then the final decision to frame charges would rest with the judge.

And even if the trial court judge, after listening to the victims, decides against framing charges and putting Modi on trial, the complainants would have the legal remedy available to approach the superior courts right up to the Supreme Court.

So anyone with a little common sense can see that Modi’s tryst with the law has only just begun.