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Old May 8th, 2002, 12:56 PM
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Gujarat ministers gun for Modi

Dissent has surfaced in the BJP ministry in Gujarat. For the first time since the Godhra massacre and the communal riots that followed, some ministerial colleagues confronted Chief Minister Narendra Modi with embarrassing questions at the weekly Cabinet meeting here on Wednesday morning.
Such an open challenge to a chief minister's authority from within his ministry is unprecedented, given the BJP's track record.

Though there was no official briefing about the proceedings at the meeting, it has been learnt that senior ministers questioned Modi's style of functioning and his inability to curb the violence in the state.

The tone was set by Industries Minister, and former chief minister, Suresh Mehta, who questioned Modi on the legality of appointing KPS Gill as his security advisor.

The Gujarat Government had initially feigned ignorance about the exact purpose of Gill's first visit here, but later Modi had said that he had invited the former Punjab police chief. This had embarrassed the government, Mehta reportedly told Modi.

Other ministers told Modi that the continuing violence was not helping the BJP's cause since even the majority community was getting disillusioned with the government because of the disruption of normal life.

Small traders, salaried people and the middle class in general — considered to be the BJP's urban support base — were getting disillusioned with the party since the riots had adversely affected their professional activities, these ministers reportedly told Modi.

Bigger businessmen and industrialists too were worried about future investments in the state, they said.

Most vocal among the critics were ministers representing constituencies in Ahmedabad and nearby areas. Among them were Energy Minister Kaushik Patel, Health Minister Ashok Bhatt, Social Welfare Minister Fakirbhai Vaghela and Minister of State for Revenue Haren Pandya.

This sharp criticism is significant since Modi has been seen to have become all-powerful in the Gujarat BJP following the party high command's refusal to remove him.

Wednesday's developments suggest that many BJP ministers are beginning to fear for the party's prospects in the state, despite the perception that the mobilisation of Hindutva sentiments in the wake of the communal riots will help the BJP win the next assembly elections.


Ministers’ chargesheet

#Your inability to control riots is alienating our support base

#Even the majority community is disillusioned

#The middle class cannot pursue professional activities

#Industrialists and big businessmen fear investments in the state will dry up

#Inconsistent statements over Gill’s appointment has hurt government’s image
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