In meeting with EU envoys, Modi called riots 'unfortunate'


Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is learnt to have told ambassadors of the European Union (EU) at their January 7 meeting that the 2002 riots were "unfortunate" and everything should be done to avoid such incidents in the future. He is also believed to have said that he would respect the verdict of the judiciary in the riots.

Explaining Modi's visit to his residence for the meeting with the EU envoys, which was first reported by The Indian Express, German Ambassador Michael Steiner said: "I have always said that we will not interfere in an ongoing election campaign in Gujarat and we will take a fresh look after elections... That is exactly what we were doing and part of it is to talk directly to Chief Minister Modi. India is a democracy. We respect democratic institutions. We respect election results in India and we have full trust in its judicial system. Because of this respect and trust, we are now in a new phase."

While the German envoy refused to elaborate further, the EU decision to engage with Modi was based on several factors. While the movement on the judicial front was a key issue, so was his growing profile as a national leader.

Another crucial factor, said sources, was that leaders from the Congress also conveyed to the EU missions that foreign governments cannot interfere in Indian domestic politics by choosing not to talk to a leader.

During discussions within the EU, many felt there could not be a holier-than-thou attitude towards Modi.

Unlike the British government, the EU issued the invitation after voting had closed in Gujarat in December but before the results were declared.

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