Before his fast, Narendra Modi wrote another letter:
Today, I begin my 3–day fast of Sadbhavna Mission with your blessings and good wishes. This Mission is totally dedicated to the society and the Nation. It aims at Unity, Harmony and Brotherhood among all.
During my fast, I will continue to pray to the Almighty to give me strength so that I do not develop or retain any ill-feeling or bitterness towards those who defamed Gujarat or me by making false allegations.
Our country is a shining example of Unity in Diversity. I am confident that with your blessings, this Sadbhavna Mission will further strengthen our social fabric.
I also recommend watching this interview he did with CNNIBN. Ignoring how the interviewer was almost annoying, I’m willing to believe that Modi is being earnest (which has to come with a disclaimer that everything else I think of Modi stands true — viz. his inaction and incompetence as a Chief Minister, which is extremely tricky to separate from complicity). Even if Modi personally ordered the riots, that doesn’t disqualify him from trying to extend an olive branch for reconciliation.
A word on the interviewer: If you ask Modi the wrong questions, he’ll always come out looking good. Likewise, if you make accusations against Modi that might never be proven, he’ll come out looking good.
The best moment in the interview was:
Interviewer: As you try to reach out and bring unity in Gujarat, is there a sense of moral responsibility for what happened in 2002?
Modi: Woh kya cheez hoti hai?
And then the interviewer explains what he meant. Modi is probably reasonable in being cautious about what he’s agreeing with.
Then there’s this interesting tidbit:
The image-makeover attempt got good assist from the presence of Muslim community at the show with “Sadbhavna” harmony as its theme. A rough estimate showed that almost a quarter of the crowd was Muslims from the Shia, Sunni, Khoja and Bohra communitites who had come from across the state. The spontaneity of Muslim turnout could not be ascertained.
I suppose the only question we need to answer to ourselves is this: If Modi’s name were on the ballot and you were voting, would you vote for him?
For me, the answer is no.