Gujarat riots not a poll issue: Cong

After its drubbing in the recently-concluded Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress on Wednesday indicated that it did not want to rake up the 2002 Gujarat riots as a major issue during the Gujarat Assembly elections later this year.

"Actually, we do not want to make it an issue. What happened in 2002 is a serious, shameful and unfortunate episode and we do not want to politicise it," Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi told reporters at the party headquarters in reply to queries whether the party would make the riots an issue in the Assembly elections in the state.

Coming from the official spokesperson for the party, the remarks hold significance ahead of the elections. It reflected the assessment of a section of the party that feels that raking up of 2002 riots could be counter-productive for the party by polarising the votes to the advantage of the Narendra Modi-led BJP government in the state.

In fact, a section of the party believed that Sonia Gandhi's "maut ke saudagar" jibe against Modi with reference to the riots during the previous Assembly polls did not help the party and helped Modi to polarise voters in his support. With Modi pitching himself for the third consecutive term later this year, Alvi's remarks indicated the churning within the party regarding the campaign against the chief minister.

Alvi, however, played down the clean chit to Modi by a Supreme Court-appointed SIT over the post-Godhra Gulberg massacre case, saying that SIT report was not a court order. "It is not an order of the court. Many a time, courts do not accept the report of the CBI," Alvi said.

'Gulberg charges politically motivated'

A day after the Supreme Court-appointed SIT cleared the name of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 post-Godhra Gulberg massacre case, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said there was no evidence against party leaders and that the charges were all politically motivated. "SIT believed that certain facts were concocted and fabricated and during investigation they were found to be not involved in the case," he said.

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