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Date:2006 November 27, 11:35 (Monday) Canonical ID:06MUMBAI2027_a
Original Classification:CONFIDENTIAL Current Classification:CONFIDENTIAL
Handling Restrictions:– Not Assigned — Character Count:11777
Executive Order:– Not Assigned — Locator:TEXT ONLINE
TAGS:CVIS – Consular Affairs–Visas | IN – India | KISL – Islamic Issues | PGOV – Political Affairs–Government; Internal Governmental Affairs | PHUM – Political Affairs–Human Rights | PREL – Political Affairs–External Political Relations Concepts:– Not Assigned —
Enclosure:– Not Assigned — Type:TE
Office Origin:– N/A or Blank —
Office Action:– N/A or Blank — Archive Status:– Not Assigned —
From:India Mumbai Markings:– Not Assigned —
To:Bangladesh Dhaka | Central Intelligence Agency | India Chennai | India Kolkata | India Mumbai | National Security Council | Pakistan Islamabad | RUMICEA USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL | Secretary of Defense | Secretary of State | Sri Lanka Colombo | United States Pacific Command

CLASSIFIED BY: Michael S. Owen, Consul General, Mumbai, State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (C) Summary: Consul General met on November 16 with
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the first such meeting
since Modi’s U.S. visa was revoked in 2005. Modi provided a
glowing overview of his accomplishments in office, including
better roads, universal access to electric power, greater
availability of water, burgeoning direct investment, and rapid
economic growth. Consul General acknowledged progress in many
areas, but queried the CM on communal relations in general, and
efforts to hold accountable those officials responsible for the
violence of 2002 in particular. A visibly annoyed Modi launched
a spirited defense consisting of accusations of USG meddling,
attacks on US human rights abuses in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere,
and allegations that Muslims were better off in Gujarat than
anywhere else in India. A half-hour of give and take on the
issue yielded little additional information from Modi, except
for an acknowledgement that he understood human rights issues
are important to the USG. Other Gujarat observers claimed Modi
aspires to a national BJP leadership role, and ironically, these
aspirations may motivate him to assure there are no further
communal disturbances in Gujarat. End summary.

2. (U) Consul General met on November 16 with Gujarat Chief
Minister Narendra Modi at his Gandhinagar office. This was the
first such meeting since the March 2005 revocation of Modi’s
U.S. visa because of his role in the 2002 communal violence in
Gujarat. Print and broadcast media were present at the
beginning of the meeting, but departed within five minutes.

3. (C) A relaxed Modi began with a glowing overview of his
Government’s achievements in building infrastructure and
promoting economic growth in Gujarat. Modi said that several
canal, dam, and water management projects had rendered water
shortages “a thing of the past,” and had greatly boosted
agricultural productivity. Similarly, extensive investments in
power generation and transmission had now brought electricity to
every village in Gujarat, an achievement recently highlighted
during President Abdul Kalam’s visit to Gujarat. The road
network was steadily improving, he said, and huge investments
were underway in ports and petroleum, including a doubling of
the massive Reliance refinery at Jamnagar. Economic growth in
the state was well above the national average, he said, and he
welcomed U.S. companies to invest in Gujarat.

4. (C) Consul General noted that he had in recent days
received similar upbeat assessments from members of the Rajkot
and Ahmedabad Chambers of Commerce. The economy is clearly
booming, and Consulate General Mumbai notices in particular the
significant number of American investors interested in Gujarat,
and the continuing flow of Gujarati business people to the U.S.
Consul General noted that we intend to send a consulate
representative to the “Vibrant Gujarat” foreign investment
conference to be held in Ahmedabad in January 2007. He also
expressed our happiness with the large number of Gujarati
students who travel every year for university study in the U.S.,
and hoped that trend would continue.

5. (C) Consul General said that while we are very pleased with
our business and people to people relations with Gujarat, we
remain concerned about communal relations within the state. In
particular, we remain concerned that nobody has yet been held
accountable for the horrific communal violence of 2002, and are
further concerned that an atmosphere of impunity could lead to a
further deterioration of communal relations. What is the
Government of Gujarat’s view on this, he asked.

6. (C) A visibly annoyed Modi responded at some considerable
length, but with three essential points:

a. the events of 2002 were an internal Gujarati matter and the
U.S. had no right to interfere;

b. the U.S. is itself guilty of horrific human rights
violations (he specified Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and attacks on
Sikhs in the U.S. after September 11) and thus has no moral
basis to speak on such matters, and;

MUMBAI 00002027 002 OF 003

c. Muslims are demonstrably better off in Gujarat than in any
other state in India, so what is everybody griping about?

7. (C) Consul General responded that it is not only the U.S.
that is concerned with this issue. The Indian National Human
Rights Commission report itself cited “a comprehensive failure
on the part of the state Government” to prevent the violence of
2002. We are reflecting a broad cross section of opinion that
no one has been held accountable for the violence and that
consequently a climate of impunity is developing. Secondly, Abu
Ghraib is precisely the point: Americans can also commit human
rights violations but when they do we have a clear procedure to
investigate, prosecute, and punish those guilty of wrongdoing.
This is what we and others would like to see in Gujarat.

8. (C) Modi grumbled that the Indian National Human Rights
Commission was biased and its reports wildly inaccurate. More
broadly, he claimed, the U.S. relied far too much on “a few
fringe NGOs” that don’t know the real picture and have an axe to
grind. In any event, if officials are guilty of wrongdoing,
then it is up to the courts to prosecute and punish them, and
the Chief Minister could not interfere with the judicial
process. Consul General said it had now been well over four
years since the violence of early 2002 and nobody has been
sanctioned; this gives little confidence that anyone would
ultimately be held accountable. Modi noted (accurately, alas)
that the culprits in the 1993 Mumbai bombings are only now being
sentenced, so we should not have “unrealistic expectations.”

9. (C) Consul General queried if there was in fact an active
investigation of the Gujarat violence still underway. Modi was
evasive and backtracked to his claim that Muslims in Gujarat are
better off than in any other state in India. He noted that the
BJP had won big victories in recent local bodies elections in
Muslim districts, and that a recent study had found literacy
among Muslims was higher in Gujarat than in any other state.
The 2002 violence had involved a “few miscreants” and had been
blown out of proportion by “fringe elements,” he said. Communal
relations in Gujarat are now excellent, he claimed.

10. (C) Consul General said we readily acknowledge the many
positive accomplishments of his Government, including economic
growth and education. These are to be applauded, but do not
diminish in any way the importance of holding accountable those
persons who are guilty of inciting or carrying out communal
violence. Consul General reiterated that failure to do so will
create an atmosphere of impunity in which radical elements would
feel emboldened in the future. He concluded by underlining that
the U.S. Government considers human rights and religious freedom
to be extremely important, and we will continue to monitor
developments and engage his Government in these areas.

11. (C) Modi responded that he understands human rights and
religious freedom are important to the U.S. because “you people
keep raising these issues all the time.” He concluded by
saying, with a touch of irony, that he hoped Consul General
would return to Gujarat on a regular basis. “All Americans are
always welcome in my state,” he said.

12. (C) Other interlocutors in Gujarat also waxed
enthusiastically about the tangible accomplishments of Modi’s
Government. Rajkot BJP MP Vallabh Kathiria beamed as he
provided a seemingly interminable list of dams built, canals
dredged, irrigation pumps installed, roads paved, and power
lines extended. Consul General asked about the violence of 2002
and whether anyone would be held accountable, but Kathiria said
“these are things of the past and we need to move on.” He
claimed that the events of 2002 were a few horrific but isolated
incidents, and that communal relations are now excellent.
Consul General asked if there was an ongoing investigation into
the 2002 violence, but Kathiria swerved again into the safety of
more highways widened and schools constructed. Asked whether he
believed CM Modi had aspirations to be a national BJP leader,
Kathiria responded with a broad smile and vigorous head waggle.

13. (C) Rajkot Congress party leader Manoharsinh Jadeja said
“Modi’s accomplishments are undeniable,” and admitted that the
Congress would make little headway against the BJP in Gujarat
anytime soon. Modi is extremely popular, Jadeja said, and even
Muslims are now supporting him to some extent because he is
viewed as someone who is completely incorruptible and can
deliver the goods. Consul General asked if Modi could become a
national BJP leader, and Jadeja said he hoped so because as long

MUMBAI 00002027 003 OF 003

as he was the CM in Gujarat, Congress would face a tough

14. (C) Consul General met at length with longtime former
Congress party MP and former Minister of Environment Yuraj
Digvijay Sinhji. Asked whether Modi could become a national
leader, Sinhji (himself the scion of the princely Wankaner
family and a Cambridge grad) sniffed that Modi “lacks the polish
and refinement” to become a national leader. But Sinhji raised
another reason why Modi could face challenges in becoming a
national leader: Modi’s reputation for being completely
incorruptible is accurate, and if he were to become a national
leader he would crack down on corruption throughout the BJP.
There are too many BJP rank and file waiting to line their
pockets once the BJP returns to power, Sinhji said, and the
prospect of Modi cracking the whip on corruption is entirely
unappealing to this crowd. Modi would have a hard time clearing
this hurdle, according to Sinhji.

15. (C) Sinhji raised an interesting point on communal harmony
in Gujarat. The fact that Modi clearly has aspirations for
national leadership makes him, ironically, one of the greatest
protectors of communal harmony at this stage. Modi knows that
another outbreak like 2002 would doom his chances, so he is
going to be particularly zealous to ensure there are no further
problems on his watch. Sinhji thought it unlikely that anyone
would ever be brought to book for the 2002 violence as long as
the BJP controls the Gujarat Government, but at the same time he
expected communal harmony to improve as the GOG keeps a careful
eye out to ensure there are no further provocations or violence.

16. (C) Comment: Modi is clearly not going to apologize or
back down on the violence of 2002, but we think it is vital for
him to hear that we are not going to let the passage of time
erase the memory of these events. Depite the chilly atmosphere
of the meeting, Modi did take on board the message that human
rights and religious freedom are important issues that we will
continue to monitor carefully. We believe Sinhji’s comments on
Modi are indeed accurate: ironically the man most hold
accountable for the communal violence of 2002 may now be the
most ardent defender of communal harmony, at least on the
surface. It remains to be seen to what extent Gujarat’s
economic boom will lead to genuinely improved communal relations
over time. End Comment.

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