Hours after BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi attacked Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for undermining the “pride of the PM,” activists in Bangalore questioned Mr. Modi’s silence on the ordinance itself.

Speaking at an event at the St. Aloysius College, activist Teesta Setalvad pointed out that Mr. Modi was yet to comment on the ordinance (that was brought in to protect convicted lawmakers from disqualification). “This is obviously because back home in Gujarat, Mr. Modi heads a Cabinet that has two convicted Ministers,” she said, responding to a query by The Hindu. This exposes his double speak on clean governance and explains why he was being rhetorical rather than addressing whether or not he supported the ordinance.

“Courts in Gujarat have convicted two Ministers — Babubai Bokharia [in an illegal mining scam in Porbandar] and Purshottam Solanki [in a fisheries scam] in his CabinetSo he loses the moral authority to oppose the ordinance. Which is why he is evading the real issue and making statements about democratic practices, when he has gone out of the way to make a mockery of it,” she said.

“All claims are lies”

Quite apart from the gross horror that he presided over in the 2002 pogrom, Ms. Setalvad said, his claims on clean governance and development are all lies. “Those who buy his lies, must first ask him why he has spent Rs. 45 crore to fight a case only so that Gujarat does not have an anti-corruption ombudsman, the Lokayukta. The corporate media, guided by vested interests of their owners, keeps focussing on one party and its PM candidate, but it won’t bother to quiz him on the Rs. 4,500-crore scams that the CAG reports have estimated in his State.” She also wanted to know whether the funds paid to APCO, the PR agency that ran his publicity campaign, were drawn out of the State exchequer.

“PR-created messiah”

Ms. Setalvad said soaring food prices and inflation have created unrest, and in such times people look for a messiah. “This is why it is more important now than ever to counter the messiah image that is being created by Modi’s PR machinery. What we need today is clear and consistent deconstructing of the myth around this PR-created messiah,” she said, taking audience questions.

Ambrose Pinto, former principal of St. Joseph’s College, called for the coming together of progressive forces to counter communal and fascist agendas.

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