Relief for Modi, temporarily
The Supreme Court decision to ask the trial court in Gujarat to look into the Gulbarga Society massacre is definitely a shot in the arm for CM Narendra Modi. But at the same time it doesn't seem to be exactly what TV channels in Delhi are interpreting it to be. The electronic media has already started projecting Modi as a future PM or if not at least the BJP's prime ministerial candidate for the next election.
Does the over-riding feeling of relief imply an end to all cases against the Gujarat CM who perhaps is the country's most polarising politician and public figure? Will he now be more acceptable to the 'secular' allies of the BJP like Nitish Kumar and the JD(U)? The answers to most of the questions raised here may not be as comforting to the BJP leadership as it is trying to portray in the first flush of jubilation, which has engulfed the party in the immediate aftermath of the SC ruling.
Monday's order seems to be a temporary relief to Modi as the court has said that the case be heard by the concerned magistrate in Ahmedabad, refusing to pass any order on his alleged inaction to contain the 2002 Gujarat riots. It's difficult to question this big picture outcome of the apex court ruling but many -- especially the BJP top brass -- seems to be reading too many goodies in the SC directive. The court seems to have conveyed that if any of the parties is not satisfied with the lower court's order where final hearing is taking place, it can approach the apex court following the outcome.
The next general elections are still more than two years away. And that's a long time in politics. But one can safely surmise that unless there's a dramatic reversal in his fortunes -- legal or political -- today's apex court ruling will certainly help Modi and his supporters to stake their claim for the top slot at the right time. But it's hardly an acquittal for Modi. Certainly not at this stage