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S.S. Bhandari blames Modi

Special Correspondent

"Four to six hours were wasted. . . . At that time the central leadership took too much time to react to the situation. If the situation had been brought under control then the riots would not have got out of hand ... ." "A black stain on BJP"

NEW DELHI: The former Gujarat Governor and senior BJP leader , Sunder Singh Bhandari, has found fault with the Narendra Modi Government for delaying action against rioters in Gujarat during the post-Godhra violence in 2002.

He has also charged the then Vajpayee Government at the Centre with "taking the riots lightly" and "failing to react in time" to the grim situation.

He has commented on the leadership issue in the BJP, virtually stating that the race is between "Advani and Advani," that except for short three or four stints by others in the presidential position, it was always Mr. Advani who came back to assume the party president's mantle. He has added unequivocally that it was time for the two senior leaders to make room for a younger leadership.

Mr. Bhandari's comments have come in the course of an interview published in the Outlook Saptahik dated May 23.

Mr. Bhandari, a RSS `pracharak' who was Governor of Gujarat at the time of the riots, said: "I had only one complaint, that there was delay in the action taken by the Government [of Gujarat]. If action had been taken on time then some things would not have happened."

He further said that the morning after the rioting started he talked to Mr. Modi and he told him that the Government had swung into action, but the fact is that action should have started the previous night when the trouble began. Four to six hours were wasted."

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