Thiruvananthapuram: A retired Supreme Court judge who had once censured Narendra Modi and has now reportedly suggested that he'll make a good prime minister, has explained why his view has changed so radically in 10 years.
"I support Modi for PM for six points, even if I don't agree with him on others," retired judge VR Krishna Iyer said today at his home in Kerala, from where he had dispatched birthday greetings to the Gujarat Chief Minister and described him as "someone of nationalistic virtue with global dimensions," according to the Gujarat information department. (Read: Narendra Modi a socialist with Gandhian values, says ex-judge who indicted him over 2002 riots)
The 99-year-old former judge listed among those points Mr Modi's views on prohibition and solar energy and said he "presumes" that the man named presumptive PM by the BJP is a socialist and supports Gandhian values. "I support Mr Modi because of his measures in ensuring prohibition against alcoholism and his support toward solar power. Mr Modi is against nuclear power, just as I am."
Justice Iyer's change of heart is so remarkable that Mr Modi's department issued a statement making it public on Wednesday evening. In 2002, the former judge had led a citizens' panel to investigate the communal riots in Gujarat that year and, in a two-part 600-page report, had alleged that the carnage, in which hundreds of Muslims were killed, was "organised crime perpetrated by the chief minister and his government".
Today he said, "I am appealing to Modi, please be non-communal. If you want to be a great PM, you have to be secular. Right to life is in the Constitution. If Modi is for it, I am for him. If he is against it, I am against him." He also said, "If Modi stood for something at one point, and has changed it publicly, then I support him," adding the rider that "Modi has to declare it publically".
Narendra Modi has refused to apologise for the violence in 2002 under his watch. In a controversial interview in July, he appeared to compare the riots to a puppy being run over, but later said his comments had been misinterpreted.
In his letter, Justice Iyer was quoted as saying, "In the chair of the Prime Minister, Mr Modi will fulfil hopes and aspirations of the people of India and uphold national dignity."
Justice Iyer also reportedly wrote that Mr Modi is getting support for his "good administrative skills and is quite capable of realising the great principles of Swaraj". He said he was confident he will remove poverty from India.