New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Friday defended the then Gujarat government headed by Narendra Modi over the 2002 riots, saying the state government was not responsible for the incident that sparked off the violence - the burning of the Godhra train in 2002 in which 59 people were burnt alive.
"How is the Gujarat government responsible for the initial Godhra violence? The Godhra violence was an incident at a railway station where some misguided people went and burnt a train bogey, which sparked off riots across the state," Jaitley said.
He added that the state had utilised its full machinery to bring about law and order.
"You had cases to that affect being investigated. You had various kind of inquiry, and also an unfriendly government in power at the centre, which did everything to find and fix responsibility on Modi. But it was not able to do so," Jaitley told TV talk show host Karan Thapar.
Asked about journalist Rajdeep Sardesai's comment that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad was the dominant force in the state and its chief Praveen Togadia was more powerful in the state at that time than Modi who had taken over some months ago, Jaitley said: "He (Modi) was new to governance".
Jaitley said the violence was so widespread that the state machinery was "insufficient" to tackle it.
Jaitley was answering questions posed by Thapar at a discussion during the launch of senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai's book "2014: The Election that changed India".