No 2002, no ‘maut ka saudagar’: Sonia


Perhaps the Congress feels Sonia Gandhi's 'maut ka saudagar' comment cost it the Gujarat assembly election in 2007, or perhaps the party is trying hard "not to fall into Narendra Modi's trap" this time around — but in her two visits to the state so far, the Congress president has not mentioned the post-Godhra riots of 2002 even once.

The word Godhra finds no mention in the Congress's 24-page manifesto, or in its 34-page "chargesheet" against Modi issued on December 3.

In speeches delivered in Rajkot on October 3, and at Mandvi in Surat district and Keshod in Junagadh district on December 7, Sonia tore into the chief minister's claims of development in Gujarat, but said nothing about the riots that had defined the Congress's campaign theme in 2007.

Congress sources said the party had taken a "conscious decision" not to give Modi a chance to "polarise" voters on communal lines. They added that even in the few days of the campaign left before the first round of polling on December 13, senior Congress leaders were unlikely to make an attempt to nail Modi for 2002.

"We have not forgotten anything about those riots, but we are not ready to fall into Modi's trap. The population of Muslims is only around 9 per cent in Gujarat.

Modi would love the Congress to talk about the riots so that he could polarize the electorate," a senior AICC office-bearer told The Sunday Express.

Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat assembly Shaktisinh Gohil said, "It's not true that we are trying to ignore it (the post-Godhra riots). Our local leaders are talking about it. But the point is there are so many other things to talk about — the lack of development, corruption, CAG report..."

The difference in the Congress approach from five years ago emerges starkly from its two chargesheets against Modi. Here is what the 2007 document said:

... contd.

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