When the story appeared, there were strong denials from the Gujarat government. So we went back to the minister, who only reconfirmed the story. Excerpts:
Did you face problems (regarding the story)?
Minister: You may have been surprised why I behaved that way when you called earlier. I called you back. I must have seemed cautious. That's because he (Modi) can go to any extent. He can get my telephone tapped. Get a print-out of the numbers I called, or calls I received....
Minister (continuing): See, whatever I told you, it was not as if some disgruntled man was saying it. I didn't say all those things because I was unhappy. There is nobody in my position who can fight him. So it's important I remain an insider, in power, in position. That's why I want my identity to be protected.
You mentioned Subarao. There was trouble with that. (The Outlook report named chief secretary G. Subarao and an officer in the CM's office, A.K. Sharma, as among those at the meeting. Neither was present.)
Minister: What happened was that there was a chief secretary-in-charge then. I got my facts mixed up. But listen, their denial was very weak, wasn't it? If they try to make an issue of it, tell them that you want the official denial from all the people mentioned in the story on paper, with their signatures. Leave the two they say weren't there at the meeting but ask the others to say that there was no meeting, no direct or indirect orders. Let them say that on paper with their signatures.
You think it is pricking the conscience of people like (Ahmedabad police commissioner P.C.) Pande and (DGP K.) Chakravarthy?
Minister (continuing): I made a mistake with the chief secretary's name. But the rest is all true. The time, the place, everything was correct. If they put pressure, ask them for official denial from the officers.
Minister (continuing): Vijay Rupani (who was supposed to organise the yatra) will give information on the (Gujarat) Gaurav Rath Yatra. But be careful when you meet these people. They are such guys that they'll try to extract my name from you. Be careful.