New Delhi: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has sparked a controversy with his first detailed interview after becoming the Bharatiya Janata Party's poll campaign panel chief. Modi, in an interview to Reuters, claimed innocence in the 2002 Gujarat riots and said he is a Hindu nationalist as he is born Hindu.
"I am nationalist. I'm patriotic. Nothing is wrong. I am born Hindu. Nothing is wrong. So I'm a Hindu nationalist. So yes, you can say I'm a Hindu nationalist because I'm a born Hindu," he told Reuters.
Claiming to be innocent in the Gujarat riots, Modi said that he would feel guilty if he did something wrong but that's not the case.
Modi has also come under fire for his puppy remark during the interview. During the interview, Modi said, "While driving if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is."
He has now come under criticism from political parties even as his own party continues to defend him. "What Modi has said is a shame. He has not been given any clean chit by the SIT. These are very dangerous and condemnable comments from Modi. He should apologise immediately and should be ashamed," said Samajwadi Party leader Kamal Farooqi.
Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha called Modi's remarks 'disturbing'. "Modi's interview is extremely disturbing. How can Modi link the loss of human life with puppy being crushed under the car," Jha said.
"It is up to the court to decide whether Modi is guilty or not. How can Modi give a clean chit to himself? Modi's comments are not sensitive," Jha added.
Minority Affairs Minister Rehman Khan hit out at Modi for his 'Hindu nationalist' remark saying, "There is nothing called Hindu or Muslim nationalist, there is only Indian nationalist."
"No one can change the character of any person. This is just the beginning of unveiling of his character, more will come out in future. Nitish always said Modi is fascist, Modi always treated minority with contempt," said JD(U) leader Sabir Ali.
The BJP continues to remain defiant. "People should read the interview completely and then speak, people are misinterpreting the interview, they are making a controversy on false interpretations," said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Seetharaman.
"Modi has said that anyone would be saddened if a puppy comes under the car. If anyone is comparing this comment with any community, it is wrong. They should not compare these two, please read the interview in totality and then comment," she added.
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