New Delhi: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jaswant Singh accused the Narendra Modi government of mishandling the Gujarat riots leading to loss of state control.
In a candid admission of failure of the state administration, the former External Affairs Minister counted the 2002 riots as one of the two "major negatives" in the history of the BJP. According to Mr. Singh, the failure of control over the Ram temple movement is the other blemish on the party since it formally came into existence in 1980.
"On the BJP's scorecard, there are two major negatives. First, the getting out of hand of the Ayodhya Ram temple issue, the consequent vandalism at the site, the pulling down of it in December 1992," says the BJP veteran in his just-released book A Call to Honour: In Service of Emergent India. "The other is the loss of state control, in 2002, in Gujarat, after a train-load of pilgrims returning from Ayodhya were trapped and their bogie set on fire in Godhra," he writes.
Confessing that the riots were a "blot on Gujarat's face," Mr. Singh said it sullied the BJP's image. "A mishandling of events, as a consequence of Godhra and whatever happened as a reaction, gave substance to the worst imaginings about the BJP, so even those who remain very sympathetic towards it were forced to observe." The Gujarat riots compromised an impeccable record of a riot-free India over six years, Mr. Singh said.