New Delhi: Defending himself on the 2002 riots, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has said his government had used its "full strength" to "do the right thing" and he had no guilty feeling.
In an interview to newswire Reuters, he said people had the "right to be critical in a democracy", but he did not have a guilty feeling.
He said he was sad about the riots, but added that he would be sad even if a "puppy" comes under a car.
"...any person if we are driving a car, we are a driver, and someone else is driving a car and we're sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course, it is. If I'm a chief minister or not, I'm a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad," Modi said in the interview to Reuters, when he was asked if he regretted the riots.
"Up till now, we feel that we used our full strength to set out to do the right thing," he said about the riots.
"People have a right to be critical. We are a democratic country. Everyone has their own view. I would feel guilty if I did something wrong. Frustration comes when you think 'I got caught. I was stealing and I got caught.' That's not my case," he told Reuters.
Modi also contended that the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team has given him a clean chit.
"India's Supreme Court is considered a good court today in the world. The Supreme Court created a special investigative team (SIT) and top-most, very bright officers who oversee the SIT. That report came. In that report, I was given a thoroughly clean chit, a thoroughly clean chit," he said.
This is the first interview to a news organisation by Modi after being appointed the chief of BJP's election campaign committee, an appointment which is being seen as an unofficial declaration that he is leading the party for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
He has emerged as a strong contender for the post of prime minister from the main opposition party, even though the controversies around the 2002 riots in the state refuse to die down.