India has been a tolerant society for centuries when it came to art, culture and music, and thus the recent controversy surrounding certain cultural issues was a cause for concern for the Bharatiya Janata Party, its president Rajnath Singh said here on Thursday.

Talking to reporters, Mr. Singh said films, music, books and other creative mode of public discourse functioned as vehicles for promoting alternative ideas and they had to be given ample space to flourish.

Apparently referring to the controversy surrounding Kamal Haasan’s latest movie Vishwaroopam in Tamil Nadu, the BJP leader called for a public debate over growing intolerance towards cultural issues. “Those who are opposed to these ideas have every right to raise their voice in dissent, but there should be no scope for hooliganism, blackmail and violence.”

Mr. Singh accused the United Progressive Alliance government of failing on many fronts, particularly diplomatic, economic and strategic issues. “The Centre has committed blunders on the diplomatic front. Pakistan is working in tandem with China against India’s strategic interests. Recently, it gave management control of the Gwadar port to China, thereby enabling that country to have a strong foothold close to the Arabian Sea. Even Sri Lanka has warmed up to the idea of striking a strategic partnership with China by giving access to the Hambantota port.”

Mr. Singh accused the UPA government of making several compromises on the ethnic Tamil issue and even helping Sri Lanka in blocking international pressure on its alleged war crimes. Reiterating that bilateral dialogue was the only permanent solution to the problem, he urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to raise the issue of relief, rehabilitation and empowerment of Tamils living in Sri Lanka, through diplomatic channels.

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