The Bharatiya Janata Party was quick to claim “victory” for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi after the Supreme Court order referring the Ehsan Jafri murder case (and the larger Gulbarga Society massacre case) back to the trial court in the State. However, the Congress and the Left said the “celebrations” in the BJP camp were out of place as it would be open to the trial court to bring charges against Mr. Modi.
There was no hard evidence against Mr. Modi and “the [trial] court cannot manufacture evidence,” said Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley. However, asked whether the court had given Mr. Modi a “clean chit,” Mr. Jaitley said he would not like to use that phrase. “The trial court has to look at the legally admissible evidence.”
Mr. Jaitley's counterpart in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, tweeted that Mr. Modi having passed the test by fire (agnipareeksha) and talked about “victory” for “truth.”
Great relief: Advani
While senior BJP leader L.K. Advani — who represents Gandhinagar in the Lok Sabha — talked about the “great relief” the Supreme Court had provided to the “model Chief Minister of the country,” journalist and fellow-traveller of the BJP Swapan Dasgupta used the occasion to advise Mr. Advani not to run for any public office. His tweet read: “Please announce u r not running for any public office before undertaking the yatra.” Perhaps, some party leaders said, Mr. Dasgupta saw that after the court's order it would be Mr. Modi at the helm of the BJP's affairs, sooner rather than later. Mr. Advani will not be able to compete and so should bow out. Mr. Dasgupta also said the way was now “clear” for “NM” to take “a direct interest in national politics” and that the “BJP needs direction urgently.”
The Congress was quite clear — no one has been given a clean chit by the Supreme Court in the Ehsan Jafri murder case. Party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi was clear the court had “not opined on the merits of the case, directly or indirectly.” It would be open to the trial court to consider the reports of the SIT and the amicus curiae and other material to arrive at a decision. This would leave “open” a decision of “including Mr. Modi” in the charge sheet. The Supreme Court had also specifically said members of the Jafri family would have to be given a chance to appear before the magistrate to present their complaints.
The ruling party found the BJP's “self-congratulatory” statements rather curious and “irresponsible”.
Law Minister Salman Khursheed made much the same point as he found the BJP reacting in a hurry before the issue of Mr. Modi being made an accused is settled by the judiciary. “The Supreme Court has said the SIT must put its report before the magistrate [in the trial court]. All is still to happen and the BJP are claiming they are in the clean and are acquitted.”
He wondered whether the BJP was privy to the records of the Supreme Court, including the report of the amicus curiae, which would now form part of the records before the trial court. “The matter has to be decided by the trial court, not by the BJP or Mr. Arun Jaitley,” he added.
The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said the various reports, including that of the SIT and the amicus curiae, and several affidavits containing “damning evidence” against Mr. Modi would now be before the trial court. This could “by no means be considered exoneration of the Chief Minister's role” as was being claimed by the BJP.