There are lessons for BJP from the latest tehelka on the Gujarat riots. As some posts have already argued there was nothing new in the expose. There isn't much horror either! What else do you expect in a Pogrom? But the expose should remind BJP, the most serious cost of its continued ambivalence. The cost of making its supporters defensive and sounding like apologists!
India thinks the seemingly state-sponsored riots were unacceptable. People who justify either the Godhra carnage or the utterly disproportionate and wrong response to it, are not being honest. I think even the BJP recognizes this and they want to apologize. But saying this in words has been a problem for the party.
For anyone, saying sorry is not easy. Saying that on behalf of your colleague is not easy at all! But thats what leadership is all about. You cannot expect minions handling press briefings to take responsibility for such ghastly actions. It has to come from people who matter. In Gujarat's case, it has to come from Narendra Modi, L K Advani and K S Sudharshan. But the last two cannot happen before the first.
When you have the 'power' to seek revenge for something like Godhra, its easy to lose ones bearings. And Modi did lose his. For that, he deserved to be dismissed in 2002. But this is 2007. From what I have seen, Modi regrets what he did five summers ago. His staunch refusal to discuss the riots is a give-away in itself. I can also see that he has resolved to work for Gujarat's development as atonement for his sins.
Why not use that 'resolution' in the current election campaign? These elections are anyway being fought on Modi. He should publicly admit that he probably didn't do enough to contain the riots. He should unconditionally apologize for his mistakes and ask the people to vote not just on his performance as the Chief Minister in the last five years but during the riots as well.
I think this approach may be not be ethical but will definitely be moral and smart. Ethics are what the society sets for itself. With our current set of ethics, there is no way Modi can be absolved of his crimes. His actions go beyond dereliction of duty. He probably instigated the riots and is today not in a position to deliver justice to the victims.
But the moral question is personal. Modi made a mistake and if he wants to undo the damages, he should be allowed to choose the best way available to him. Sitting in a jail for few years and losing his political career may be justice but I doubt that'll give him peace. Besides how can Modi punish/betray the people who committed the same mistakes like he did? If he thinks ushering development in Gujarat is his payback, thats acceptable to me.
Ofcourse this apology is a smart political move too. I doubt an apology will cost him the election this time. It might upset the Sangh but aren't they upset anyway? But the benefits are enormous. Not just in this election but also for his national ambitions. (Oh yes, I cannot wait to have him as Prime Minister. But then, thats me!)