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Summons to Modi's confidant puts Gujarat government in a spot

By Vicky Nanjappa
July 22, 2010 18:36 IST
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The Narendra Modi government in Gujarat is in a spot following the summons issued to Minister of State for Home Amit Shah in connection with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

Prashanth Dayal, the journalist who broke the story in 2005, told that Shah, who is Modi's most trusted aide in the government, "is not likely show up even after the second summons has been issued. It is clear that the minister is likely to avoid the Central Bureau of Investigation, and the agency will be forced to issue a third summons."

The Gujarat government has been shaken up by this new turn of events. It is to be seen, before their legal options run out, if Modi will seek Shah's resignation or not. Dayal claims that "the CBI has in its possession ample evidence against Shah to prove his involvement in the case."

So far, what the CBI has claimed to the media, in off the record briefings, is that there are telephonic conversations and supportive statements from the arrested accused in the case to establish that Shah nurtured a gang of 25 police officers to undertake such work

It is also evident that this was a fake encounter; the Gujarat government has itself admitted so before the Supreme Court.

Rajasthan's powerful marble lobby, which complained of extortion by Sohrabuddin, was behind the fake encounter, Dayal claims.

He, however, feels that Modi will dillydally over Shah's resignation. The minister is his troubleshooter and if at all he is removed from office, it will be very hard to find a replacement. Also, it is not possible that Shah acted on his own in 2005, when Modi was so powerful.

The government in Gujarat is in disarray over this development and shaken. However, once the third summons is issued, there will be no option for Modi but to seek Shah's resignation because after the interrogation if some prima facie evidence is found, the CBI can arrest him.

However, Shah is a product of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh culture and it is unlikely that he will drag his boss Modi into the case although it is believed that the CM was aware of it.

Observers say that while Shah will feel let down by Modi, he will not take on the latter as in that case outside help from the party and RSS cadres will be lost.

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Vicky Nanjappa