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India hardliner Modi sparks outrage with ‘dead puppy’ remark

AFP-JIJI

Indian Hindu hardliner Narendra Modi, seen as the key opposition challenger in 2014 elections, has said he meant no offense when he compared victims of anti-Muslim violence to puppies run over by a car.

Modi, in an interview published last week, spoke openly for the first time about 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat state in which Hindu mobs killed over 1,000 Muslims.

The controversial Bharatiya Janata Party leader, who is Gujarat’s chief minister and was in power during the riots, said he felt “sad” over the violence — just the way one would feel “bad” when a car runs over a puppy.

The remark to Reuters news agency was splashed on Indian newspaper front pages on Saturday and trended on Twitter.

” ‘Hindu nationalist’ Modi kicks up storm with puppy remark,” said a Times of India headline.

Modi tried to counter the criticism by tweeting late Friday: “In our culture every form of life (including puppies) is valued and worshipped.” But critics were not appeased.

“His comment is very bad, dangerous and humiliating,” said Kamal Farooqi, a senior leader of the regional Samajwadi Party, which draws support from Muslims in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

“What is he really saying? Are Muslims less than puppies?” asked Farooqi.

Modi said he would have felt “guilty” over the violence “if I did something wrong” but if “someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is.

“If I’m a chief minister or not, I’m a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad,” said Modi, without explaining why he was not at the wheel during the riots as chief minister.

Ruling Congress party General Secretary Ajay Maken said Modi should apologize to the nation “for the kind of words and analogy he has used.” And the regional Janata Dal (United) party called Modi “a very dangerous person.”

National Law Minister Kapil Sibal also waded into the row, demanding to know, “What was he (Modi) doing in the back seat?” when the riots occurred.

Modi, whose state has thrived economically under his leadership, is expected to be tapped as candidate for prime minister if the BJP wins the elections to be held by May 2014.

Modi paints himself as a pro-business reformist who can revive the fortunes of the world’s largest democracy. But he remains a divisive figure nationally after being accused of doing nothing to stop religious riots in his state.

  • manofsan

    Strongly disagree with your copy-paste journalism. In India, all creatures are worshipped – there are even temples devoted to rats. In reincarnation, a human being can be reborn as a puppy, and vice versa, a puppy can be reborn as a human being.

    Modi was simply saying that while he did not believe he was culpable for the riots, he could still nevertheless feel bad about them.

    Various demagogues from India’s politically opportunistic Left have pounced on this for their own selfish politcal agendas, but I see no reason for a Japanese publication to publish their ad hominem jibes without even the slightest context.

    • sami

      Modi love for puppies show he either was a puppy in his past life or will be one in the next.