New Delhi, July 12 (ANI): Cutting across party lines, several politicians and leaders by and large condemned Gujarat Chief Minister and probable BJP prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi for his comments on various topical issues, including his alleged role in the Godhra riots of 2002, given during an interview to Reuters.
Modi's comment on the riots and his claim that the courts of the land have so far exonerated him of involvement in the various incidents also drew the ire of political leaders.
A majority of them rubbished his claim that India's Supreme Court, considered to be one of the good courts in the modern era, had created a special investigative team (SIT) with senior and very bright officers, and that in their report, he had been given a "thoroughly clean chit" as far the Godhra riots were concerned.
They also rejected his statement of being a nationalist and a patriotic Hindu.
Janata Dal-United leader Shivanand Tiwari described Modi as a person who was mentally ill and unwell, and warned that it would be unfortunate if he became India's next Prime Minister.
"A person commenting like this is not well. It will be unfortunate if he becomes the PM of the country. Even I am a Hindu. But, what is the need to say that I am a Hindu and I am proud of it," asked Tiwari.
"This country has 80 percent Hindus. With these kind of statements, this country is bound to break-up. The initiatives taken by the BJP are in Modi's hands," he added.
Tiwari was commenting on Modi's statement that he was a nationalist and a patriotic person who was born Hindu.
Modi had said that there was nothing wrong in being a Hindu nationalist.
"So, yes, you can say I'm a Hindu nationalist because I'm a born Hindu. I'm patriotic, so, nothing is wrong in it," Modi said.
Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Aggarwal said that the Godhra riots of 2002 were the creation of the Gujarat government, and it ridiculous to even think that Modi, being a chief minister, was actually pained by the death and destruction caused by the mayhem then.
"The riots in 2002 were on the orders of the (Gujarat) Government. The investigations have made everything clear. The culprit is clear. This is and has been an independent investigation," Aggarwal said.
Communist Party of India (CPI) leader A.B. Bardhan said: "If this is how a chief minister talks about their responsibilities, then he is playing with the people and their sentiments."
Reacting to Modi's statement that as a driver of a car, even if a puppy comes under the wheel, it will be painful and sad, Bardhan said: "This is not possible that he is sitting in his car and he does not know who the driver is?"
Bardhan categorically said that Modi is trying to change his image, but refused to back away from his long-held views that Narendra Modi is a divisive element and that the BJP is a communal party
He questioned Modi over talking about Hindu nationalism
Gujarat Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia accused Modi of perpetrating a conspiracy at both the state and national through his comments.
"He is doing this conspiracy since a long time, and it is for the sake of votes. He says that he is the leader of a particular community. Today, the BJP can't go forward without Modi. This is unfortunate for the BJP and the country," Modhwadia said.
Delhi Janata Dal-United leader Sabir Ali accused Modi of perpetrating a form of separation in the name of caste
"His thinking cannot be changed. He is also a citizen of the country. The country can never accept such a person. Nitish Kumar (Bihar's Chief Minister) never allowed Narendra Modi to enter Bihar in eight years of his incumbency," said Ali.
The political leaders were unanimous in their view that Modi is a polarising figure, evoking visceral reactions across the political spectrum.
Modi said that people have a right to be critical of him in 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 the foreign news agency during the course of his interview at his official Gandhinagar residence. (ANI)