New Delhi: Signalling the European Union’s (EU) change of policy towards Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi over the 2002 riots in the state, Germany’s envoy yesterday said they trust India’s judicial system.
“India is a democracy. We respect the 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,” German Ambassador Michael Steiner said in a statement about Modi’s meeting with envoys of European countries.
Modi met Steiner and other envoys of the EU on January 7 in New Delhi. The meeting was the first that European envoys had with Modi since the riots, sources said. It came after British High Commissioner Sir James Bevan met Modi in Gandhinagar in October last year, ending a 10-year boycott.
Sources said EU ambassadors had resolved to break diplomatic contacts with the Modi government following the 2002 riots.
EU Ambassador to India Joao Cravinho told a newspaper recently that Modi had lunch with the EU envoys in January to discuss what happened in 2002, the judicial process, accountability for the riots, development process in Gujarat and his election victory. He also said that justice in India may be slow but it produces results.
Sources said the meeting came amid the rise in Modi’s political stature within the BJP following his third successive victory in the state assembly polls and talks in party circles that he could emerge as its prime ministerial candidate.
They said that convictions in 2002 riots cases, including that of former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani, had also helped strengthen the impression that the cases were going to their logical conclusion in the state.
Meanwhile, BJP overseas affairs convener Vijay Jolly yesterday objected to Cravinho’s reported remarks about accountability for Gujarat riots in relation to Modi’s meeting with the EU’s envoys.
“The BJP’s unhappiness has been conveyed to the EU ambassador. The BJP has objected to his statement. It tantamounts to interference in internal affairs of India. We disapprove of the provocative, suggestive and accusatory remarks by the EU’s ambassador to India,” Jolly said.
Modi was re-elected the chief minister for a third successive term December last.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari yesterday asked Modi to take responsibility for the 2002 riots. He added that foreign diplomats subjected India to “homilies over the riots” that took place when he was the chief minister.
Responding to queries about Modi’s meeting with EU envoys and reports that he faced some tough questions, Tewari said:
“I wonder why the chief minister of Gujarat does not stand up and take responsibility.” He added that the 2002 riots had taken place “under his (Modi’s) watch”.
“I think there is certain ignominy attached to it (the homilies),” Tewari added.