Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Some call Amit Shah the `right hand` man of Bharatiya Janata Party`s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Some others say he is the Guajrat CM`s `Man Friday`; while many refer to him as the modern day `Chanakya` of BJP. In an exclusive interview with Zee News Editor Sudhir Chaudhary he dispelled many rumours regarding his recent run-ins with the Congress and the Election Commission.
When asked about how his track record as Gujarat`s Home Minister was dotted with contentious issues like snoopgate, Gujarat riots, Ishrat Jahan and Sohrabuddin encounters among others, Shah said, "The number of encounters during the 12-year-tenure is the least among all states. While 1500 encounters took place across India, only 17 of them took place in Gujarat. And these 17 were anti-national and not anti-social like in other states. On the flip side, while all of Gujarat`s encounters are under investigation, only one other encounter in Andhra being probed. The facts are on NHRC`s website for everyone to see. This shows Congress` vindictive politics at work. UPA`s figures show Gujarat had second lowest rate of serious crimes. In these 12 years Gujarat is the only state were no curfew has been imposed in any district.
Narendra Modi has had to defend his stand on Gujarat riots a lot many times because it was the BJP which was in power and moral responsibility lay with it to quell the violence. "As far as responsibility is concerned we`ve taken all responsibility, BJP has never shied from relief, rehabilitation or wiping tears. Simply tendering apology is not a solution. If anyone is responsible for violence, then they deserve to be punished.
Is apology enough for such incidents? 3000 Sikhs were killed in 1984 anti-sikh riots. Manmohan Singh apologised, but he was not responsible for any of those acts. Rajiv, Sonia or Rahul Gandhi didn`t apologise. Why aren`t they asked how many were killed, how many bullets were fired and despite it being the capital why did it take so long to call in the army," said Shah.
Instead of Gordhan Zadafia, had you been the minister it could`ve been controlled better? "Law and order was enforced properly then and army was called in. But at times situations go beyond control," said Shah.
A supposed `snoopgate` has been the bane of Amit Shah in the past few months and detractors have spared no opportunity to grill him over it. When asked if indeed surveillance had been ordered by him, Shah said, "Gujarat government has formed a panel to probe the issue. I will present my case before the panel. The panel has to first ascertain whether it was surveillance or security. If it was surveillance it was unjustified, but if it was security then it was justified." Refusing to comment any further over it, he added, "I will present my defence before the judicial commission."
Can a judicial probe commissioned by the Gujarat government in this regards be expected to be fair? "The judicial commission (JC) has been formed as per the prescribed guidelines. It doesn`t comprise of a government officer or a retired IAS officer — the government has appointed a reputed retired High Court judge for it. Anyone can present their allegations and the JC will then investigate in open court and give its verdict."
When asked if there was any semblance of truth in the rumour that Rs 10,000 crores were being spent in campaigning to propel BJP to power and make Narendra Modi the prime minister, Shah said, "This is all Congress` ploy to malign BJP and stay in the limelight. BJP doesn`t need to spend big bucks this time because the common man is with us."
Shah was asked about allegations that industrialists like Adani and Ambani were fuelling BJP`s poll expense. He said, "Congress has been in power in the Centre for 50 of the last 60 years and it is laughable if they say such a thing about the BJP. Anand Sharma must give proof of this Rs 10,000 crores to the EC and then prepare to face the consequences."
His contentious speech were he asked voters to `press buton and seek revenge` has again reignited allegations that he is a polarising figure, but Shah chooses to steer clear of the latest controversy he has been embroiled in. "I don`t want to comment as I have to reply to the Election Commission. As far as Uttar Pradesh is concerned, let me tell you that the election here is being fought over the issue of border security, deterioration of law and order, corruption, price rise and Narendra Modi`s leadership."
Referring to the accusations, he says, "Vindictive politics is not in BJP`s DNA, it is intrinsic of the Congress —be it Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev or Amit Shah, we have been at the receiving end. And this is one of the reasons why the Congress is faced with this tsunami of Opposition."
Finally when asked if the country moved beyond the Ram Mandir? "The Ram Mandir was, is and — until it`s made — will always be there on BJP`s agenda," Shah sums up saying.