Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Modi's interview to reuters

Narendra Modi is a polarizing figure, evoking visceral reactions across the political spectrum. Critics call him a dictator while supporters believe he could make India an Asian superpower. Ross Colvin and Sruthi Gottipati from Reuters spoke to Modi at his Gandhinagar home in a rare interview, the first since he was appointed head of the BJP's election campaign in June. Here are edited excerpts from the interview:

Is it frustrating that many people still define you by 2002?

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.

Do you regret what happened?

I'll tell you. India's 
Supreme Court is considered a good court. It created a special investigative team and top-most, very bright officers who overlook the SIT. That report came. In that report, I was given a thoroughly clean chit, a thoroughly clean chit. Another thing, 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.

Should your government have responded differently?

Up till now, we feel that we used our full strength to set out to do the right thing.

Did you do the right thing in 2002?

Absolutely! However much brainpower the Supreme Being has given us, however much experience I've got, and whatever I had available in that situation and this is what the 
SIT had investigated.

Should have a secular leader?

We do believe that ... But what is the definition of secularism? For me, my secularism is, India first. I say, the philosophy of my party is 'Justice to all. Appeasement to none.' This is our secularism.

Critics say you are an authoritarian, supporters say you are a decisive leader. Who is the real Modi?

If you call yourself a leader, then you have to be decisive. If you're decisive then you have the chance to be a leader. These are two sides to the same coin ... People want him to make decisions. Only then they accept the person as a leader. That is a quality, it's not a negative. The other thing is, if someone was an authoritarian then how would he be able to run a government for so many years? ... Without a team effort how can you get success? And that's why I say Gujarat's success is not Modi's success. This is the success of Team Gujarat.
What about the suggestion that you don't take criticism?

I always say the strength of 
democracy lies in criticism. If there is no criticism that means there is no democracy. And if you want to grow, you must invite criticism. And I want to grow, I want to invite criticism. But I'm against allegations. There is a vast difference between criticism and allegations. For criticism, you have to research, you'll have to compare things, you'll have to come with data, factual information, then you can criticize. Now no one is ready to do the hard work. So the simple way is to make allegations. In a democracy, allegations will never improve situations. So, I'm against allegations but I always welcome criticism.

Allies and people within the BJP say you are too polarizing a figure

If in America, if there's no polarization between Democrats and Republicans, then how would democracy work? It's bound (to happen). In a democracy, there will be a polarization between the two of them. This is democracy's basic nature. It's the basic quality of democracy. If everyone moved in one direction, would you call that a democracy?

Which leader would you like to emulate?

I never dream of becoming anything. I dream of doing something. So to be inspired by my role models, I don't need to become anything. If I want to learn something from Vajpayee, then I can just implement that in Gujarat. For that, I don't have to have dreams of (higher office in) Delhi. If I like something about 
Sardar Patel, then I can implement that in my state.

Reuters‘ scoop interview with Narendra Modi published yesterday by the news agency, but apparently given 17 days ago on June 25, has created headlines for the Gujarat chief minister’s continuing lack of contrition for what happened under his watch in 2002.
And for his faux pas of comparing the victims to “kutte ka bachcha” (puppies).
On Twitter, Sruthi Gottipati, one of the two Reuters‘ journalists who sat down for the powwow has complained of the manner in which the interview has played out on Indian TV and in the newspapers.
But those who have been fighting Modi on the courts of Gujarat and Delhi have bigger problems with Reuters‘ interview than the “kutte ke bachcha” gaffe. They say Reuters “failed to, conspicuously, persist with any accurate, difficult or pinching questions.”
Here, below, is the full text of the press release emailed by the Business India journalist turned activist Teesta Setalvad of Citizens for Justice and Peace.
***
PRESS RELEASE: Seven days before Reuters published its [Narendra Modi] exclusive, a privilege denied by the PM-aspirant to an Indian news agency or channel, we [Citizens for Justice and Peace] had been contacted persistently by a Reuter’s correspondent.
Not Ross Colvin or Sruthi Gottipati who now carry the journalistic honour of grabbing moments with a man who rarely likes to be questioned, especially if the questions are persistent like say those of Karan Thapar in 2007.
Thapar keen to get to the bottom of what Modi actually felt about 2002, did not  simply casually record – as Reuters has done – Modi’s response but asked, insistently, whether Modi actually regretted the mass reprisal killings that had taken place, post-Godhra, on his watch.
Modi simpered, dithered, glared and admonished…when none of that worked, and Thapar persisted, Modi did what he does best.
Not so with Reuters, that managed its exclusive but failed to, conspicuously, persist with any accurate, difficult or pinching questions.
***
The young man from Reuters who finally tracked me down in the Sahmat office at 29 Ferozeshah Road last week was clueless, he said, about Gujarat 2002. Apologetic about this ineptness, he kept saying that his bosses had asked him to track down the SIT report.
They had not bothered to contact us directly.
We insisted that he, read Reuters, do what fair journalism demands: look at the SIT clean chit in context; examine also the amicus curaie Raju Ramachandran’s report that conflicted seriously with the SIT closure and clean chit (opining that there was material to prosecute Narendra Modi on serious charges).
Both the SIT and the amicus were appointed by the same Supreme Court.
We insisted that Reuters examine the Supreme Court Order of 12.9.2011 that gave us the inalienable right to file a Protest Petition; we pointed out that Reuters must read the Protest Petition itself that we filed in pursuance of this order on 15.4.2013, peruse the arguments that we have been making before the Magistrate since June 25, 2013.
***
We tried, as best as we could, to communicate that Reuters should read the SIT clean chit in the context of these overall developments.
No, No, said Reuters that had possibly already bagged the interview by then.
Who says a politically important interview should address all developments and facts, in a nutshell, tell the whole and complete story?
Much better to perform a tokenism, throw in a few questions about 2002, not persist with questioning the man charged with conspiracy to commit mass murder and subvert criminal justice with the complexities and gravity of charges and legal procedures that he currently faces – and which are being argued in Open Court in Ahmedabad.
Easier to be glib, grab headlines in all national dailies including by the way the one in Telegraph which is the only newspaper to report that Modi used “kutte ke bacche” not puppy as an analogy for which creatures may inadvertently get crushed when a “road accident happens.”
Never mind that many have been convicted for criminal negligence when they drive and kill.
On business and development, too, while Reuters plugs the man themselves in the first paragraph of the interview, there are no real probing questions on foreign direct investment, the Gujarat government’s back out to solar power companies (reported two days ago in the Economic Times) and so on….
So, quite apart from the more than despicable “kutte ke bacche” comment that Modi reportedly made, quite apart from the fact that he chose Reuters for his debutante mutterings not a national agency or channel, what is truly tragic about the whole exercise is the compliant journalism that it reflects.
The Reuters interview is not a dispassionate or thorough exercise that attempts to genuinely probe opinions and views. It is a sensational tokenism

Salman Khurshid, Congress: Said Modi has a poor idea about the Indian people and that Hindu nationalist is an oxymoron for religion can't have a nation. Taunting Modi's 'puppy under the wheel' comment, Khurshid said one needs to raise some questions of his driver and take action but he didn't think that Modi has done it.
Kamal Farooqi, Samajwadi Party: Asking whether Modi was at all speaking about patriotism, he said a chief minister takes oath to protect its people. He said Modi was worried over a puppy but didn't feel bothered to apologies for the mass killings of 2002. Describing it to be sad, he asked whether Modi thought Muslims are worse than even puppies. Farooqi felt Modi should apologise to the entire nation.
Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP: Lashed out at Farooqi's comment, saying it was is despicable to say that Modi compared a community to dogs. She urged people to read the remarks made by Modi and their context before making any interpretation. She said a complete misinterpretation was causing a unnecessary controversy.
 Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena: Welcomed Modi's remarks about Hindu nationalism. He said the Sena always believed in the opinion of Balasaheb Thackeray, its late leader, that the nation should be led by a Hundutva leader. He said Modi's stand will benefit the NDA.
Shivanand Tiwari, JD(U): Questioned Modi's reference to Hindu nationalism. He said such remark showed that Modi is a leader who doesn't believe in inclusive politics. He said the 'Hindutvawadi' people were destroying India's religious pluralism.
Arjun Modhwadia, Congress: Said Modi said what he had in his head and that he was taking such lines to get votes. He said Modi is known to be the leader of a particular community and the BJP can not move forward without him.
AB Bardhan, CPI: Felt Modi's words show that he was playing with the people. He said the BJP is a communal party and Modi a divisive element.




Devang Nanavati, Gujarat High Court advocate: Said the SIT had found nothing wrong and gave a clean chit to him. He said Modi did everything he could to prevent the riots. The army was called within 48 hours and over 70 companies of RAF were deployed.

1 comment:

  1. We have launched a petition to request President Obama to reconsider US Administration’s stand on Mr. Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat, India.

    Please visit http://www.modi360.com to review and sign this petition.

    ReplyDelete