"It should not have happened. The administration should have clamped down on any violence. (If I were in his place) I would have ensured (that) but Modi was new to the job as Chief Minister,” he said.

Parrikar, considered close to Modi, also conceded that the Gujarat violence was a blot on Modi's career but said the Chief Minister was not personally a part of it. "If he is guilty by connivance he should be punished, but investigations have given him a clean chit. People who oppose him do so because they fear him," Parrikar said in a TV interview.

He said the riots were a product of administrative failure and that everything need not be blamed on Modi alone. "What happened then was unfortunate, but that does not require his apology. It requires his correction and he has done that,” the Goa CM said.

"There were many reasons why people lost control in 2002 after the bodies (of Hindu pilgrims from an earlier attack) were shown on TV. It should not have happened, the administration should have clamped down on any violence," Parrikar said.

The prelude to the interview refers to Parrikar ‘an affable face of the Hindu right and says that the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) alumnus impressed middle class Indians by taking economy class flights, by hailing a taxi himself at the airport and with clean governance in his state.

To a question whether he considers himself a potential candidate for the post of Prime Minister, Parrikar is quoted as saying, "No, not at all, I am not a candidate."

MODI EMERGES AS A HOPE AMONGST YOUTH

Parrikar also said that at a time when Manmohan Singh is being seen as a lame duck Prime Minister and the Centre is in a ‘perpetual state of suspension’, Modi had emerged as a hope amongst the youth. "In these circumstances, particularly young people see an alternative model in Modi and if they want him as Prime Minister they will have to elect his local representatives,” he added.

"Also, a substantial number of businessmen are likely to back the BJP this time and they will also go for Modi. I believe a national mood is emerging to put the BJP in power and Modi as Prime Minister," he said.

CATHOLICS IN GOA ARE CULTURALLY HINDU

Catholics in Goa are culturally Hindu and India is a Hindu nation in the cultural sense, Manohar Parrikar said. "India is a Hindu nation in the cultural sense. A Catholic in Goa is also Hindu culturally because his practices don't match with Catholics in Brazil except in the religious aspect, a Goan Catholic's way of thinking and practice matches a Hindu's," Parrikar said.

Parrikar heads a state where the Catholic population is just under 30 percent of its 1.5 million populations. The BJP fielded an unprecedented eight Catholic candidates out of the 24 assembly seats the party contested.

I AM A PERFECT HINDU: PARRIKAR

Parrikar, 57, said that he was a ‘perfect Hindu’ but added that it’s his personal faith and ‘it has nothing to do with government’. Parrikar took pains to distinguish Hindu as a cultural rather than a religious term.

"I am not the Hindu nationalist as understood by some TV media - not one who will take out a sword and kill a Muslim,” he said.

"According to me, that is not Hindu behaviour at all. Hindus don't attack anyone, they only do so for self-defence - that is our history," he said.

(JPN/Agencies)

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