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18 April 2012

Congress Party's electoral prospects bleak in Gujarat, no political strategy to counter Narendra Modi

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By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani


Ahmedabad: Desperate to stoke a political revival ahead of the elections due later this year, the Gujarat unit of the Congress Party is avoiding targeting the ruling party’s questionable communal record and is instead seeking out a new issue.


This search for an alternative political strategy has gained urgency after a Supreme Court-appointed team last week gave a clean chit to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in a 2002 riots case. So far, however, analysts say that the Congress Party, handicapped by lack of a strong political leadership, is unable to evolve an alternative.


The Congress, the main opposition to Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat, has not been in power in the state since 1995. After a decade of blaming Modi and his party for the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat that killed hundreds of people, the Congress now wants to draw people’s attention to the economic and development problems in the state during its election campaign.


Analysts say the Congress’s electoral prospects are bleak as its state unit doesn’t have a strong leadership or a political strategy to counter Modi. Many political observers believe the revival of the communal riots cases in the courts will only benefit Modi.


Social and human activist and renowed fighter for riot victims Dr. J. S. Bandukwala from Vadodara said that he would not say that the case against Modi is now closed. There are still many legal hurdles to cross. Zakia Jafri and Teesta Setalvad will pursue the matter to the end. It is interesting that Tata Motors was given huge tracts of land, water. road and other facilitries to set up their Nano project. The total amount was Rs. 30,000 crores, to be repayable after 20 years, at an interest of just 0.1 percent. While this arrangement was being worked out, SIT chief Raghavan was taken into the Tata coporate structure , at a high salary. Can we honestly say that Raghavan is an impartial investigator?


Note this is similar to what happened in the case of Justice Nanavati, who was appointed to investigate the 2002 riots. Immedaitely thereafter his two sons were appointed as Government prosecutors, again at a very fat remuneration for each appearnce. Is this ethically correct? Remember Justice Nanavati was a Supreme Court Judge . If we cannot trust his honesty then where do we go? Dr. Bandukwala further said, "The dilemma that confronts Narendra Modi is that even a ‘clean chit’ such as the one that the SIT has given him, may not give him the political liftoff that he is likely looking for in order to go national."


[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

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