He has been called the “Hindu Hriday Samrat”, “Maut Ka Saudagar” (Merchant of Death), Great Dictator and a “Polarising Politician” and yet Narendra Modi’s election victories continue to pile up. The latest sweep in Gujarat by-elections has also bolstered his image as the supreme vote catcher – he won in 2002, in 2007 and won again in 2012.
And yet the Gujarat riots of 2002 shadow his footsteps so doggedly that he fights them every day. However, he refuses to answer questions on the riots.
“The ones who run the Gujarat government are merchants of death,” Sonia Gandhi, Congress President, had said.
Thousands of Sangh Parivar activists have been accused in Gujarat riot cases. The law has reached senior ministers like Maya Kodnani in Modi’s own government. His own Sangh Parivar reportedly turned against him for failing to protect them, but he has kept winning popularity.
He sees himself as a victim; someone unfairly painted as communal by the media, misjudged by pundits, and persecuted by NGOs. His senior police officers are also in jail for encounter killings and he himself faces charges over his role in the riots.
His answer to the accusations has been unleashing an armoury of development in his state – Gujarat. He believes development will wipe out the riots of 2002 from history and memory.