New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government was responsible for "abetting and pushing" the 2002 Gujarat riots while the Congress government tried to stop the 1984 riots, Rahul Gandhi said today but offered no apology for the anti-Sikh violence.
Pitted against Modi in a virtual Presidential-style contest in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Gandhi said he was not scared of him and claimed that Congress will defeat BJP.
Making a direct attack on Modi, he said, "the fact of the matter is that innocent people died in 1984 and innocent people dying is a horrible thing and should not happen. The difference between Gujarat and 1984 was that the government of Gujarat was involved in the riots."
Asked in an interview to Times Now as to how he could say that when Modi has been given a clean chit by the courts, Gandhi said, "... he was the Chief Minister when the Gujarat riots happened....The government in Gujarat was actually abetting and pushing the riots further."
Seeking to differentiate the role of governments during the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and 2002 in Gujarat, he said, "the simple difference is that in 1984, the government was not not involved in the massacre of people. In Gujarat it was."
He insisted that the Congress government in 1984 "was not aiding and abetting the riots" but had tried to stop the violence.
When pressed further on how he could attack Modi on the Gujarat riots, Gandhi said, "it is not me. It is a large number of people who saw actively the government of Gujarat being involved in the riots.
"I mean, people saw it. I am not the person who saw it. Your colleagues saw it. Your colleagues told me. They saw the administration actively attacking the minorities."
To questions whether he would apologise for the 1984 riots and whether he felt that there was no need for it, Gandhi said, "First of all, I wasn't involved in the riots at all. It wasn't that I was a part of it."
At the same time, he admitted that "some Congress men were probably involved in 1984 anti-Sikh riots and they have been punished for it".
Q: Will you apologise on behalf of Congress party?
A: I think that riots, as all riots, were a horrible event. Frankly, I was not in operation in Congress party.