A slug-fest broke out between the Congress and the BJP over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's controversial "Hang me if I am guilty" remark related to the 2002 riots in the state.
Modi gave an interview to an Urdu weekly, Nai Duniya, saying: "Hang me if I am guilty ('Main gunehgaar hoon toh mujhe phaansi par latkaa do')" in reference the Gujarat riots.
Shahid Siddiqui, a former Rajya Sabha member from the Samajwadi Party, conducted the interview, which dealt with the post-Godhra riots, the state of Muslims in Gujarat and other related issues.
Here are some reactions -
"If he (Modi) wants to improve his image, let him. But I feel he should change his behavior and his role. That will be the best. Changing image will not help,"
- Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid
"A procedure has to be followed before someone is pronounced guilty, there has to be an FIR at least. In 10 years, not even an FIR has been lodged against Modi,"
- Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal
"This is an organized conspiracy by the central government to malign the Gujarat chief minister and the Gujarat government. They are trying to bring a bad name to a model government,"
- Former BJP president Rajnath Singh
"I don't know whether it (the remark) is to appease minorities. But I think it is highly reprehensible and irresponsible,"
- Union Corporate Affairs Minister M. Veerappa Moily
"Even today, in many cases, his name has come up. Even his own party, the BJP, believes that he has made a mistake. So, such type of the utterances is not acceptable,"
- Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia
Oddly, the BJP has been rather silent over all of this. More signs that Modi is the unofficial king of the saffron party now?
Image: Gujarat State Chief Minister Nerendra Modi reacts to the press upon his arrival at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo for the meeting with Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada Tuesday, July 24, 2012. (AP)