Rahul Gandhi accuses Modi of "abetting" Gujarat riots

NEW DELHI Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:34am IST

1 of 2. Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi speaks during the All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting in New Delhi January 17, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Rahul Gandhi attacked the chief opponent of his embattled Congress party on Monday by accusing his regional government of 'abetting' religious riots in 2002.

Gandhi's charge injected a tense new element into a general election campaign that has so far focused mainly on the economy and corruption. Indians are due to vote by May in what many see as a direct contest between Gandhi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi.

Modi's record as chief minister of the state of Gujarat has been overshadowed by the riots 12 years ago in which Hindu mobs killed at least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims. Rights groups and political rivals have long alleged he allowed or actively encouraged the attacks. Modi has always denied this, and a Supreme Court inquiry found no evidence to prosecute him.

"The government in Gujarat was actually abetting and pushing the riots further," Gandhi told Times Now television in a rare interview, adding that Modi was responsible because he was chief minister of Gujarat at the time.

"The government in Gujarat was allowing the riots to happen," Gandhi said.

Gandhi, 43, a son of India's most famous political dynasty, was nominated this month to head the Congress party's election campaign. A once-booming economy has slowed sharply, while a series of corruption scandals involving Congress have boosted both Modi and a new anti-graft party.

The majority of India's 1.25 billion people are Hindus but around 13 percent are Muslims. Gandhi warned earlier this month of an opposition trying to split India on religious lines.

In his interview, he accused Modi of running his Bharatiya Janata Party like a one-man show, relying on his charisma rather than any particular policies.

"The BJP believes in concentration of power in the hands of one person. I fundamentally disagree with that. I believe in democracy, I believe in opening up the system," Gandhi said.

Rahul's father, grandmother and great-grandfather were all prime ministers in post-independence India, but critics deride him as a political lightweight who depends on his family name for power and has barely registered his presence in parliament despite being a member for the last decade.

Until now he has struggled to show he can follow in his family's footsteps as a statesman and orator who can win over a new generation of voters.

During the interview, which lasted more than an hour, Gandhi underscored the achievements of the Congress party in office, and focused his message on empowering women, making institutions more transparent, and protecting the poor. He said he wanted to turn India into a manufacturing powerhouse like China.

(Reporting by Alistair Scrutton and Sruthi Gottipati; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
SamCee wrote:
Writers,

When you say “Modi’s record as chief minister of the state of Gujarat has been overshadowed by the riots 12 years ago in which Hindu mobs killed at least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.” you need to also mention why that happened? It was a repercussion, from your writings its appears clearly that you are blaming Hindu’s for what happened.

Reuters being a neutral reporting news agency (thats what I think), please do not prefer one party over the other, or else you will loose your credibility.

Thanks,
-SamCee

Jan 27, 2014 10:06pm IST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Earnings Season

Earnings Season

Wipro sees rosier end to year as U.S. clients spend.  Full Article 

DLF Appeals

DLF Appeals

DLF seeks interim relief from capital market ban  Full Article 

Business Climate

Business Climate

Fears for tough penalties grow as India cleans up business  Full Article 

New Email Service

New Email Service

Google launches new email service dubbed "Inbox".  Full Article 

Falling Oil Prices

Falling Oil Prices

Indian consumers respond to softer oil, food prices  Full Article 

Pollution Levels

Pollution Levels

Delhi braces for worst air quality this Diwali week.  Full Article 

Book Keeping

Book Keeping

RBI fires warning shots on companies' lack of FX hedging.  Full Article 

Policy Repo Rate

Policy Repo Rate

Most external members suggested rate cut in RBI's Sept review.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage