According to Shaji, Modi cannot be held guilty of killing Muslims. Nor did he have a role to play in the destruction of any masjid, Shaji averred. The MLA quoted human rights activists as saying that some leading businessmen engineered the Gujarat riots.
Shaji noted that big industrial houses set up shop in Gujarat not too long after violence ravaged the state in 2002. Pointing to the harmony between Gujarati Muslims and Hindus, he said that members of the minority community have welcomed Modi's good governance.
Gujarat has witnessed rapid development over the past one decade and the steps taken by the BJP regime should be emulated by other states in order to achieve similar growth, the MLA stressed.
Incidentally, several IUML leaders were present on the dias while Shaji gave a clean chit to Modi but none of them objected to his praise of a political rival. The surprising aspect is that IUML never misses a chance to target the BJP.
Now that Modi is emerging as the clear frontrunner in the race for the prime minister's post and more than one stalwart in the main opposition party has already endorsed his candidature, it looks like IUML is looking to mend fences with him.
Whether this is a pointer of things to come remains to be seen. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has repeatedly hinted that Janata Dal (United) could walk out of the NDA if his Gujarat counterpart is projected as the BJP's choice for the top post. Shaji's comments show that there are no lifelong enemies in politics. Probably Modi may one day get Kumar's backing too.