Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has tried to downplay his Prime Ministerial ambitions insisting that Gujarat remains his focus and any planned move to Delhi after the December Gujarat elections is only media speculation. In an interview with IBN18 Editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai, while on his Vivekananda Yatra that ends on Thursday, Modi insisted that he would win by an even bigger margin than in 2002 and 2007 this time.
Modi also chose to keep silent on the contentious issue of apologising for failing to control the 2002 Gujarat riots. In the interview, Modi also refused to answer the contentious issue of the criticism he has received from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and whether he would campaign in Bihar.
Following are excerpts from Rajdeep Sardesai's interview with Narendra Modi:
Rajdeep Sardesai: I spoke to Nitin Gadkari a few days ago and asked him that if Narendra Modi wins by a two-third majority, will he be NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate, he said Modi is one of the contenders out of six to seven other leaders. Would you like to come to Delhi?
Narendra Modi: I want to ask the media if the people of this country have assigned you the task of finding a Prime Minister.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Do you want to go to Delhi? Opinion polls show that Modi is the most popular BJP candidate for becoming the Prime Minister, that's why I am asking.
Narendra Modi: 6 crores Gujaratis have given me a responsibility and I will put in all my efforts for Gujarat.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But if you get a majority in this Gujarat election, do you see the next Prime Minister from Gujarat?
Narendra Modi: The 2012 elections will see the grand victory of BJP in Gujarat. More than any previous elections, after this win I will be more focused on developing Gujarat into a dream state.
Modi remains silent on apology for Gujarat riots
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sonia Gandhi during the 2007 elections accused you of being a 'maut ka saudagar' or a merchant of death. Do you feel that what happened in 2002 prevents you from moving ahead? Nitish Kumar has been heard saying that Narendra Modi cannot come to Bihar. Is 2002 a hurdle in your political career?
Narendra Modi: Rajdeep you have a 24-hour news channel and all the time to debate over this. My best wishes are with you.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So you won't go to campaign in Bihar?
Narendra Modi stays silent.
Rajdeep Sardesai: There are those who say that if Narendra Modi wants to become the Prime Minister, he will have to apologise for 2002. Do you think this is correct? What do you want to say to the people who feel this way?
Narendra Modi: Thank you. I gave you a very detailed interview.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So you will not answer this question? Sir my question is that if Modi wants to become the Prime Minister, should he apologise for 2002 and then move ahead?
Narendra Modi stays silent.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Thank you Mr Modi.