The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Modi’s doors open for Taslima
- Gujarat CM offers to protect ‘courageous lady’, Centre silent

Ahmedabad/New Delhi, Nov. 27: Narendra Modi has invited Taslima Nasreen to live in Gujarat and assured her protection.

“If the Centre cannot protect a courageous lady who spoke and wrote against fundamentalists, we invite her to stay in Gujarat,” the chief minister today told an election rally in Botad, Bhavnagar.

“She should be sent here. We will take care of her safety and security. My government and my people will protect her.”

With the BJP on the offensive against Bengal’s Left Front government on the issue, it was just a matter of time before Modi jumped into the ring.

The invite could also be his way of avenging an old insult. The Bengal government had settled Qutbuddin Ansari — the face of the Gujarat riots — in Calcutta and used him in a propaganda blitz against the BJP.

Taslima has been running from Bengal to Jaipur to Delhi, Modi said. “And now I’m told she will be again taken to Bengal. If the Centre is so apprehensive about the fundamentalists and obscurantist forces, it should send her here. I have the courage to protect her.”

The chief minister had first made the invitation in an interview with a local daily yesterday. “She can carry on her work in the field of literature. Even if she criticises me in her book, I will welcome it,” he said.

Muslim leaders such as J.V. Momin dismissed Modi’s remarks as a “poll stunt”.

In Delhi, the Congress said Modi was perhaps trying to “atone for his sins”.

“Modi could get rid of the sins of the past (his alleged connivance with the 2002 rioters) through the offer. He could hope to purify his soul and that of the entire BJP,” Priya Ranjan Das Munshi said.

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