Modi suggests: bar 'communal candidates' from polls
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi wants Rajasthan's Indira Canal extended all along the international border of Gujarat as a barrier against any conventional war with Pakistan. He also wants the Indian Penal Code amended to prescribe more stringent punishment for communal violence and election laws amended to ensure that persons habitually committing serious offences relating to communal violence are debarred from contesting all elections.
The Congress, however, ridiculed Modi for trying to paint himself as a crusader against communalism, asserting that such a farce won't wipe out the blot on him of the 2002 communal carnage in the state. It is nothing but an electoral gimmick of the image makeover as he knows such a law cannot be enacted quickly before the Gujarat assembly polls (due by November-December), HRD minister Kapil Sibal said, challenging him to agree on the communal violence bill pending before parliament if he were really serious about the venom of communalism.
Modi's two radical ideas are included for discussion in the Western Zonal Council meeting to be chaired by the union home minister in September and attended by the chief ministers of Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra.
The ideas figure in the minutes of the 7th council meeting held in Goa on July 2, attended by the chief secretaries, that has been circulated as part of the agenda for the full-fledged council meetings attended by the CMs.
The Gujarat government's logic in extending the Indira Canal to the state is that "this will not only provide much needed water to the parched areas of Kutch, but also act as a barrier in the event of a conventional war with Pakistan".
The 650-km long canal, the biggest project in India, has changed the fortunes of several desert areas in Rajasthan and Modi hopes it will likewise help the water-starved Kutch. The canal starts from Harike barrage of the Sutlej-Beas rivers and runs through Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, culminating near Jaisalmer.
Another idea proposed by the Gujarat Government to checkmate Pakistan is for special attention by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence to the problem of illegal hawala transactions since the state's investigations showed a racket of pumping the money so coming to India into the terrorist activities and other "fundamentalist" activities in Gujarat.
Gujarat also wants the centre devise a mechanism to curb the illegal communication by Pakistani fishermen using the wireless system fitted on their boats. Modi has also complained that the fencing of the India-Pakistan border in Gujarat is progressing very slow.