Book recalling tensions between Modi and Vajpayee submitted to riots panel

Former Gujarat DGP R B Sreekumar has submitted to the Nanavati-Mehta Commission a chapter from a retired IAS officer's memoirs which describes alleged strains in the relationship between Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the aftermath of the 2002 riots.

The book, The Insider's View, Memoirs of a Public Servant, by Javid Chowdhury, a Gujarat cadre officer of the 1965 batch, says Modi's government did not want a central team to visit the Shah-e-Alam relief camp in 2002, and the late Ashok Bhatt, then the health minister of Gujarat, had actually threatened to jump from the car if the union health minister insisted on going to the camp.

The chapter, which lauds two IPS officers including Sreekumar, and an IAS officer, for taking on the government, "has relevant information for the commission", Sreekumar said. "Now, it is up to the commission to call Chowdhury for a deposition."

The book was published last year. In 2002, Chowdhury was union health secretary.

Asked if he would be willing to depose before the Nanavati-Shah Commission, Chowdhury said, "What I have stated in the book is anecdotal. I have no evidence. So there is nothing to depose."

Chowdhury has written: "Within a day or so of the breakout of the violence... The PMO suggested that the union health ministry should intervene at least by way of providing medical relief. However, there was no scope for this, as the state government insisted that everything was back to normal, and no central assistance was required. I learnt that the PM had called the health minister and asked him to devise a modality to intervene without raising the hackles of Narendra Modi." The PM "desired that the intervention be taken up under the flag of the Indian Red Cross Society".

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