Ten questions that Arnab Goswami should have asked Narendra Modi

09 May 2014

After watching one more disappointing interview of Narendra Modi, this time by Arnab Goswami, it seems clear enough that it doesn’t matter who the interviewer is, what matters is the set of questions posed to Modi. On this score, every interview of Modi during this campaign has been a failure. While it is unlikely that Modi will agree to an interview with The Caravan, I do believe the ten questions listed below need to be asked. The Gujarat model of development requires another set of ten questions on its own, but it is best to begin with these. Perhaps Modi, or anyone speaking on his behalf, can consider answering them in writing if they are unwilling to face tough questions followed by counter questions?

Question 1. Mr Modi, while it is true that no court has convicted you for the 2002 violence, it is also true that no chief minister has been ever indicted in such a case since Independence. That can be no answer to some inconvenient facts. In the post-Godhra violence, 697 Muslims and 177 Hindus were killed, and in addition, another 170 people were killed in police firing. The numbers clearly suggest that, on the streets, Hindu mobs outnumbered any Muslims indulging in violence. Yet, of the 170 killed in police firing, 93 were Muslims. How did your police manage this incredible feat of selective killing?

Question 2. Let us for a moment assume that this was not done on directions by you, or anyone close to you, and that the police was acting on its own. Then it would only be proper that, as the chief minister, you would work to set right a police force that had become communalised. Instead, what did you choose to do? Officers such as Rahul Sharma, then SP of Bhavnagar, and Vivek Srivastava, SP of Kutch, who ensured that their districts remained immune to this kind of communal policing, were transferred out in the immediate aftermath. Senior officers who seem to have been themselves guilty of communal violence through the police have since been continually rewarded. What was your intention in doing so, Mr Modi?

Question 3. Maya Kodnani was an MLA in 2002, when she led a mob of 10,000 people that killed 97 people. She has since been convicted and sentenced to life. It doesn’t matter whom she was politically close to, the fact is she was made minister in the Gujarat government by you. You choose to still defend yourself by saying there that there was no case against her at the time. Well, Mr Modi, why was there no case against her at the time? What was your police doing? Did you act to rectify this shortcoming of the force after the court verdict?

Question 4. In a 2012 interview to Shahid Siddiqui, you said (in translation), “You people find your mouth watering today, it is because the combined number of Muslims in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan can come together, and with the help of Indian Muslims, create tension in India.” This is in keeping with the tone and tenor of all your rhetoric about Muslims, either through innuendo or as in this case very directly. Do you believe Indian Muslims are only waiting to join hands with others outside the country to create trouble here? Do they need to go an extra mile to prove their citizenship as Indians to you?

Hartosh Singh Bal is the political editor at The Caravan.