Modi Ji choosen as a new candidate for the chief
In 2001, Keshubhai Patel's health was failing and the BJP lost a few state assembly seats in
by-elections. Allegations of abuse of power, corruption and poor administration were made, and Patel's
standing had been damaged by his administration's
handling of the earthquake in Bhuj in 2001. The BJP national leadership sought a new candidate for the
chief ministership, and Modi, who had expressed misgivings about Patel's administration, was chosen as a
BJP leader L. K. Advani did not want to ostracise Patel and was concerned about Modi's lack of experience
in government, Modi declined an offer to be Patel's deputy chief minister, telling Advani and Atal Bihari
Vajpayee that he
was "going to be fully responsible for Gujarat or not at all". On 3 October 2001 he replaced Patel as
Chief Minister of Gujarat, with the responsibility of preparing the BJP for the December 2002 elections.
Modi was sworn in as
Chief Minister on 7 October 2001, and entered the Gujarat state legislature on 24 February 2002 by winning
a by-election to the Rajkot – II constituency, defeating Ashwin Mehta of the INC by 14,728 votes.
2002 Riots of Gujarat
On 27 February 2002, a train with several hundred passengers burned near Godhra, killing approximately
60 people. The train carried a large number of Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya after a religious
ceremony at the site of the
demolished Babri Masjid.
In making a public statement after the incident, Modi declared it a terrorist attack planned and
orchestrated by local Muslims. The next day, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad called for a bandh across the
Riots began during the bandh, and anti-Muslim violence spread through Gujarat. The government's decision
to move the bodies of the train victims from Godhra to Ahmedabad further inflamed the violence. The state
later that 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed. Independent sources put the death toll at over 2000.
Approximately 150,000 people were driven to refugee camps. Numerous women and children were among the
victims; the violence
included mass rapes and mutilations of women. The government of Gujarat itself is generally considered by
scholars to have been complicit in the riots, and has otherwise received heavy criticism for its handling
of the situation.
Several scholars have described the violence as a pogrom, while others have called it an example of state
terrorism. Summarising academic views on the subject, Martha Nussbaum said: "There is by now a broad
consensus that the Gujarat
violence was a form of ethnic cleansing, that in many ways it was premeditated, and that it was carried
out with the complicity of the state government and officers of the law." The Modi government imposed a
curfew in 26 major
cities, issued shoot-at-sight orders and called for the army to patrol the streets, but was unable to
prevent the violence from escalating. The president of the state unit of the BJP expressed support for the
bandh, despite such
actions being illegal at the time. State officials later prevented riot victims from leaving the refugee
camps, and the camps were often unable to meet the needs of those living there.
Muslim victims of the riots were subject to
further discrimination when the state government announced that compensation for Muslim victims would be
half of that offered to Hindus, although this decision was later reversed after the issue was taken to
court. During the riots,
police officers often did not intervene in situations where they were able. In 2012 Maya Kodnani, a
minister in Modi's government from 2007 to 2009, was convicted by a lower court for participation in the
Naroda Patiya massacre
during the 2002 riots. Although Modi's government had announced that it would seek the death penalty for
Kodnani on appeal, it reversed its decision in 2013.
On 21 April 2018, the Gujarat High Court acquitted Kodnani
while noting that there were several shortfalls in the investigation. Modi's personal involvement in the
2002 events has continued to be debated. During the riots, Modi said that "What is happening is a chain of
action and reaction."
Later in 2002, Modi said the way in which he had handled the media was his only regret regarding the
episode. In March 2008, the Supreme Court reopened several cases related to the 2002 riots, including that
of the Gulbarg
Society massacre, and established a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the issue. In response
to a petition from Zakia Jafri (widow of Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the Gulbarg Society massacre), in
April 2009 the court
also asked the SIT to investigate the issue of Modi's complicity in the killings. The SIT questioned Modi
in March 2010; in May, it presented to the court a report finding no evidence against him.
In July 2011, the court-appointed
amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran submitted his final report to the court. Contrary to the SIT's position,
he said that Modi could be prosecuted based on the available evidence. The Supreme Court gave the matter
to the magistrate's
court. The SIT examined Ramachandran's report, and in March 2012 submitted its final report, asking for
the case to be closed. Zakia Jaffri filed a protest petition in response. In December 2013 the
magistrate's court rejected
the protest petition, accepting the SIT's finding that there was no evidence against the chief minister
2002 Election of Gujarat
In the aftermath of the violence there were widespread calls for Modi to resign as chief minister from
within and outside the state, including from leaders of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Telugu Desam
Party (allies in the
BJP-led National Democratic Alliance coalition), and opposition parties stalled Parliament over the issue.
Modi submitted his resignation at the April 2002 BJP national executive meeting in Goa, but it was not
His cabinet had an emergency meeting on 19 July 2002, after which it offered its resignation to the
Gujarat Governor S. S. Bhandari, and the state assembly was dissolved.
Despite opposition from the election commissioner,
who said that a number of voters were still displaced, Modi succeeded in advancing the election to
December 2002. In the elections, the BJP won 127 seats in the 182-member assembly. Although Modi later
denied it, he made
significant use of anti-Muslim rhetoric during his campaign, and the BJP profited from religious
polarisation among the voters. He won the Maninagar constituency, receiving 113,589 of 154,981 votes and
defeating INC candidate
Yatin Oza by 75,333 votes.On 22 December 2002, Bhandari swore Modi in for a second term. Modi framed the
criticism of his government for human rights violations as an attack upon Gujarati pride, a strategy which
to the BJP winning two-thirds of the seats in the state assembly.
Final years as Gujarat Chief Miniter
Despite the BJP's shift away from explicit Hindutva, Modi's election campaign in 2007 and 2012 contained
elements of Hindu nationalism. Modi only attended Hindu religious ceremonies, and had prominent
associations with Hindu religious
leaders. During his 2012 campaign he twice refused to wear articles of clothing gifted by Muslim leaders.
He did, however, maintain relations with Dawoodi Bohra. His campaign included references to issues known
to cause religious
polarisation, including to Afzal Guru and the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh. The BJP did not nominate any
Muslim candidates for the assembly election of 2012.
During the 2012 campaign, Modi attempted to identify himself with the
state of Gujarat, a strategy similar to that used by Indira Gandhi during the Emergency, and projected
himself as protecting Gujarat against persecution by the rest of India. While campaigning for the 2012
assembly elections, Modi
made extensive use of holograms and other technologies allowing him to reach a large number of people,
something he would repeat in the 2014 general election. In the 2012 Gujarat Legislative Assembly
elections, Modi won the constituency
of Maninagar by 86,373 votes over Shweta Bhatt, the INC candidate and wife of Sanjiv Bhatt.The BJP won 115
of the 182 seats, continuing its majority during his tenure and allowing the party to form the government
(as it had
in Gujarat since 1995). In later by-elections the BJP won four more assembly seats and two Lok Sabha seats
held by the INC, although Modi did not campaign for its candidates.
In 2013, the Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF) at
the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania cancelled a keynote video-conference speech by Modi
following protests by Indian-Americans.After his election as prime minister, Modi resigned as the chief
as an MLA from Maninagar on 21 May 2014. Anandiben Patel succeeded him as the chief minister.