Amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran has pinpointed the vulnerability of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's position and role in the post-Godhra riots of 2002. Modi failed to deal fairly and evenhandedly with the situation arising out of the tense situation in the aftermath of the killing of VHP activists on Sabarmati Express at Godhra. He did not live up to be the good administrator that his supporters in the BJP and outside claim him to be.
The man who sensed it immediately was the shrewd Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He made the cryptic comment to TV reporters at one of the camps of the victims that Modi should follow 'raj dharma'. It would have been better if Modi had stepped down then. Though he has remained in power ever since and won many political spurs for himself in the party, he has lost the bigger battle of a good reputation. He may still scrape through the legal tussle, which has now dragged for over a decade, but that may not be sufficient to propel him on to the national scene and even pitch himself as the BJP's prime ministerial hopeful.
It is not that the detractors and enemies of Modi have made him a victim of allegations and innuendo. The amicus curiae has sifted through the chaff of anger and indignation, and he has come to the conclusion that Modi's approach to the riots remains biased and therefore unjustified. Modi sought to justify the riots as a reaction, and in doing so committed political folly of the worse kind.
The BJP is trying its best to defend its long-standing chief minister in Gujarat but they too seem to realise that this is a losing battle. Political battles are won in hearts and minds and not just in elections. Modi and the BJP are losing this bigger battle as they try to look for technicalities that save but do not redeem him.