Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's declaration that he was committed to the Constitution of India and the rule of law was on Saturday held up by the Bharatiya Janata Party as a shining example for all.
“Mr. Modi has always declared he will abide by the law. He has high regard for the Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court and on Saturday he appeared before it. He answered questions put to him by the SIT and what he said is now between him and the SIT,” BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told The Hindu over telephone from Patna.
He said it was true the party had reservations about “certain activists” who have revelled in “Modi-baiting” and were silent about victims of terror attacks and naxal violence. “Is it that those victims do not need justice,” Mr. Prasad asked.
Mr. Modi's first round of questioning by the SIT lasted five hours ending at around 5.30 p.m.
Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman, who held up Mr. Modi as an honourable law-abiding man, lashed out at the media for wrongly reporting that he had been summoned by the SIT to appear before it on March 21 when the truth was that he had been asked to accept a mutually acceptable date in the week starting March 21. It was then agreed that he would appear before the SIT on March 27 and he did.
She said the media was holding a trial of its own and was assuming guilt when there was none. “He had only gone to assist the SIT and cooperate with it,” she said. “The BJP respects the SIT and other institutions and we work within the framework of law,” she said.
However, she did admit that the SIT was set up because the Supreme Court was not satisfied by the manner in which the cases flowing from the 2002 riots were being handled by the Gujarat police and the Gujarat courts.
At some levels in the party, questions have begun to be asked whether the BJP would treat Mr. Modi differently from how it has treated other leaders. It was recalled that Madan Lal Khurana was forced to resign as the Delhi Chief Minister as soon as his name figured in the ‘hawala' scandal although there was no formal charge sheet. Uma Bharati was forced to resign as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister after an old case related to hoisting of the national flag in Karnataka came up. The question that is being asked is whether Mr. Modi will be asked by the party to put in his papers if an FIR were to be filed against him.
Ms. Sitharaman on Saturday found fault with a reported statement by the Law Minister advising Mr. Modi to cooperate with the SIT. “Such advice is unacceptable,” she said.