After facing embarrassment over some party leaders’ praise of Narendra Modi, Congress today targeted the chief minister, likening his rule with that of the Nazis.
"The Nazis also built autobahns (German expressways) but what defined the Nazi regime wasn’t those autobahns. It was Auschwitz (concentration camp). It was Treblinka (externation camp). It was ghettos (where jews were forced to live)," party spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters.
Tewari, however, hastened to add that he was not drawing any parallel.
"Notwithstanding the complete myth of a vibrant Gujarat, ultimately in the final analysis what is going to define the BJP government in Gujarat is the inaction and the culpability in the Gujarat carnage. I am not drawing any parallels but yes there are certain lessons, which history teaches us."
He was responding to questions on yesterday’s comment of Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit that there was "no two opinion that development is taking place in Gujarat" and that governments get re-elected again and again becasue they ensure development.
As her statement kicked up a controversy, Dikshit later clarified that she cannot praise Modi who is accused of communal riots in Gujarat, while another Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi yesterday said that the Chief Minister’s statement was made in a different context.
In a sort of self-goal in an election year, the Gujarat Congress had in a Republic Day advertisement in local newspapers last week also praised Modi.
A pull-out by Congress, distributed with newspapers on the Republic Day in some parts of the state, featured Modi’s photograph, and describes him as "a master organiser and astute election strategist". The state assembly elections are scheduled to be held in December.
Tewari, however, downplayed the developments like Dikshit’s praise for Modi or the Gujarat PCC ad campaign describing them as "slip of tongue" and "satire".
"If satire is lost on certain people that can not be helped," he said adding that Modi’s regime is finally going to be defined for both its "culpability" and "inaction" in Gujarat riots.
Tewari also questioned why Modi himself did not volunteer to appear before the Nanavati Commission probing the riots if he thinks he is clean on the issue.
"There has been huge differences in what Gujarat government has been doing and saying in last ten years," he said commenting on the Sadbhavana fast of Modi.
Tewari’s comments came on a day when in a reprieve for Modi, Gujarat High Court rejected a petition for summoning him to the Nanavati Commission for questioning in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots, observing there was no substance in the plea.
The Congress spokesperson, however, refused to attach any significance to reports that Modi will not be campaigning for BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
"It is entirley the business of the BJP. The presence or absence of any Opposition leader is totally immaterial and inconsequential for us. Congress goes to polls with its policies and progammes," he said when asked whether Modi’s absence from the BJP’s election campaign could help Congress in Uttar Pradesh.