Riots role haunts non-corrupt Modi: WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks claimed the US is seriously evaluating Modi`s prospects of becoming a national leader.

Updated: Mar 22, 2011, 13:18 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The electoral success of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had forced the US administration to redraft its strategies in order to deal with the fire-brand BJP leader, should he rise to the national scene in future, WikiLeaks claimed on Tuesday in its fresh revelations on India.

According to a WikiLeaks report published by a leading daily, the US administration, which had earlier denied any engagement with Modi at the ambassadorial level because of his role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, was seriously evaluating the BJP leader’s prospects of assuming a leadership role at the national level.

The confidential 2006 cable discloses that US diplomats found themselves in a very complex situation and they were eventually preparing for any interaction with Modi but at the same time wanted to highlight Washington’s concerns over `human rights and religious freedom` in Gujarat.

Conscious of Modi’s inevitable rise in the national scene, the State Department apparently sanctioned meetings at the level of the Mumbai Consul General and the right-wing leaders assuming that such interactions would also enable the US to interact with him.

As per the revelations contained in a secret cable dated November 2, 2006 (84043: confidential), the Consul General in Mumbai, Michael S Owen, underlined the possibility and importance of interacting with Modi, whose B1/B2 visa was revoked in 2005 by the US administration.

Owen also underscored the need for a discussion with Modi and his role in the 2002 communal violence, which according to him, will also shield the US from allegations of opportunism that might come from the BJP, if the US ignores Modi and seek a dialogue with him later if he makes it to the national scene.

The cable also reveals that Owen had held wide ranging discussions with several RSS and BJP leaders and concluded that Modi was set to gain a significant role in the national politics in the days to come.

The Consul General in Mumbai also concluded that it was a popular view in the BJP that the Gujarat Chief Minister had the qualities and leadership skills required for reinvigorating the party and preventing its further slip into oblivion.

“While there was no consensus on Mr. Modi`s chances for success at the national level, some in Delhi and Gujarat strongly felt that his rise was inevitable” the cable quoted Owen as saying.

In its 2,850-word assessment, which was cleared by the New Delhi Embassy before being cabled to the State Department, the Mumbai Consulate carefully considered all aspects of Modi’s rise and the possible US response to the change of leadership in India.

“If Modi does eventually get a national leadership role in the BJP in the foreseeable future, the USG [United States Government] will be obliged to decide how it wants to deal with a figure of national prominence whose B1/B2 we revoked. We believe it would dilute our influence to avoid Modi completely. If we waited to engage Modi after he attains national stature within India`s largest and most important opposition party, many in the BJP would likely view this as an opportunistic move and only deepen the suspicions cultivated by some BJP leaders in western India since the visa revocation,” Owen said.

The disclosures also points to the fact that the US administration wanted to balance equations with the main opposition BJP in the event of Modi’s rise by establishing that Washington does not have a formal no-contact policy and wanted to develop serious relationship with the party while it was in the opposition.

“Since the riots of 2002, we have declined to engage Modi at the Ambassadorial level, but Mumbai Consul Generals have routinely sought meetings with Modi whenever they visited Ahmedabad. We will continue to seek such meetings at the level of the CG to emphasize that the USG does not have a formal no-contact policy. Direct encounters with Modi will also enable us to deliver a clear message regarding USG concerns for the state of human rights and religious freedom in Gujarat,” Owen wrote in its report to the State Department.

The US also viewed Narendra Modi as an ambitious leader with a clean image, who has established himself as an effective administrator. The Mumbai Consulate, in its report, also branded Modi as a facilitator of business in a state with a deep commercial culture, and as a no-nonsense, law-and-order politician who looks after the interests of the Hindu majority.”

The Mumbai Consulate concluded that supporters of Modi were hopeful that his leadership skills, popularity and his public image could attract voters throughout India. Owen also opined that a section of BJP leaders believed that voters in India will pardon Modi for his role in 2002 communal violence in Gujarat once they know about his dynamic and progressive leadership traits.