Terming as "a deadly attack on Hindus" the Gujarat government's nod for seeking death penalty for former BJP minister Maya Kodnani and nine others in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case, Shiv Sena on Saturday said Hindus have different expectations from Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
"There is a feeling that Modi is a protector of Hindus. Seeking death penalty for Kodnani and Bajrangi is a deadly attack on Hindus, who have different expectations from Modi," an editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' said.
"It has become a crime to be a Hindu in this country.
We are sad that those launching deadly attacks on Hindus are Hindus," the editorial said.
In August last year, a trial court had sentenced Kodnani, once a close Modi aide, to 28 years in jail, while Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi was ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison. Eight others were awarded 31-year imprisonment, while 22 convicts got 24 years prison term.
As many as 97 people were killed in Naroda Patiya locality of Ahmedabad by a violent mob on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train carnage triggered communal riots in Gujarat.
The Gujarat government had earlier this week decided to file an appeal in the High Court seeking death penalty for Kodnani and others, seven months after the sentence was pronounced, much beyond the stipulated period of three months.
"There can be no two opinions that criminals should be punished. However, when the court has already given a harsh sentence to Kodnani and Bajrangi, what does the Gujarat Government want to show to the world by seeking the death penalty," the editorial said, adding "Godhra riots were a reaction to the burning of the Sabarmati Express."
"It has often been said that Gujarat is a laboratory of Hinduism. The only expectation is that the lab does not produce (nidharmita) a religious poison," it said.
The Sena's comments on Modi came three days after the party, a key NDA ally, asked the BJP to take a clear stand on projecting the Gujarat Chief Minister as NDA's prime ministerial candidate.
"The BJP has the right to decide its prime ministerial candidate but it cant make (anyone) prime minister on its own. It will have to take allies in the NDA into confidence," the Sena had said.
"A section in the BJP is making noise over Modi being made partys prime ministerial candidate. Is he really BJPs nominee for prime ministers post? BJP president Rajnath Singh and party stalwarts like L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj should make it clear," the Sena had said.