‘Can’t blame Narendra Modi for 2002 riots’: Sharad Pawar keeps UPA guessing

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Sharad-PawarSharad Pawar, chief of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and an old UPA ally, continued to leave room for doubt over his proximity to Narendra Modi and the BJP.

He said that while he is very much with the Congress-led UPA, now and after the elections, he also shared a good equation with Mr. Modi, just as he does with leaders of all political parties. Mr. Pawar said that he didn’t believe in the politics of enmity.

He also said that Mr. Modi, who is the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, should not be held responsible for the 2002 riots in Gujarat, when the court had exonerated him.

“When the court has said something, we have to accept it so why raise the issue,” the 73-year-old said.

When asked whether this differed from the stance taken by Rahul Gandhi, who only recently in an interview, held Mr. Modi culpable for the communal violence in Gujarat, Mr. Pawar said, “If they (the Congress) have some difference information, I do not know about it. I am only going by what the court said.”

He also accepted meeting with Mr. Modi in January, saying that it was not a secret meeting, but that the two were present at an official event of the Agriculture Ministry, which he heads. It was just a “chit-chat over tea and coffee,” Mr. Pawar said, adding, “I don’t see why so much importance is given to it.”