Gujarat riots widen Nitish-Modi rift

Last Updated: Wed, Jun 20, 2012 09:56 hrs

The rift between Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi widened with Janata Dal (United) leader on Wednesday saying the Bhratiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran did not perform 'Raj Dharma' during the riots in Gujarat in 2002.

Kumar said Modi ´mishandled´ the Gujarat riots and that resulted in the loss of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Lok Sabha polls in 2004.

"Modi´s mishandling of Gujarat riots made NDA lose its power in 2004," said Kumar.

He said former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not happy with Modi and the manner in which he handled the Gujarat riots.

He said Vajpayee wanted to remove Modi from the Chief Minister´s post after the riots.

The infamous Gujarat riots of 2002 left hundreds of Muslims dead, injured and tortured and came as a blot in the BJP rule in the state.
The riots followed an incident of train burning in Godhra in which Hindus returning from Ayodhya were killed by a Muslim mob.

Around 1,000 supporters of prime accused Maulvi Umarjihad attacked the coach at the Godhra station and torched it killing 59 people and injuring many.

Kumar on Tuesday created a new embarrassment for the BJP as he said the BJP must name their Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014.

His move seemed to be aimed at the growing influence of Modi with whom he exchanged several barbs in the past.

In an interview to The Economic Times, Kumar said the voters must know who the BJP is selecting in the general elections in 2014 as the PM candidate.

"The leader of the coalition should have secular credentials and liberal frame of mind," he said, reminding of Modi´s image after the 2002 Gujarati riots in which the Muslims were killed.

"It should be someone who has absolute faith in democratic values. In a multi-religious and multi-lingual country like ours, the leader should not have rough edges in his personality," he told the financial daily.

Kumar and Modi have exchanged barbs over numerous issues in recent times.

Kumar on June 11 criticised Modi for saying that caste-based politics has ruined Bihar and said he should first look into the condition of his own state.

"Bihar was an excellent state but caste politics destroyed it," Modi had earlier said.

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