Terming the 2002 Gujarat riots as “unfortunate”, BJP president Rajnath Singh on Sunday said it was unfair to blame state Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the incident and accused Congress and some other parties of dividing the country on religious lines.
“One of our states is Gujarat. I agree an unfortunate incident took place. Who does not agree that it was unfortunate. Attempts were made to blame Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as if the riots were planned by the Chief Minister,” he said in New Delhi.
Mr. Singh said during his personal interactions with Mr. Modi, he tries to read his facial expressions. “He looks so sad...what is wrong with the people. Is it politics?” the BJP president asked referring to charges that Mr. Modi was behind the riots.
He was addressing the inaugural session of BJP’s Minority Morcha’s National Executive meeting.
He said people should ask the Muslims of the states whether they feel any discrimination under BJP’s rule.
Mr. Singh also used the occasion to lash out at Congress for adopting the Britishers’ ‘divide and rule’ policy.
“Whether Congress adopted any other policy of the British or not, they at least adopted their divide and rule policy...Congress and some other political parties have tried to sow the seeds of division in the country,” he said.
He admitted that members of the minority community working for BJP find it difficult to propagate the party’s policies among people due to the perception created that the party was against taking minorities along.
“The perception is away from the reality. We do not indulge in such politics,” he maintained.
Mr. Singh’s remarks on Mr. Modi came a day after party leader Arun Jaitley said that there should be no controversy over the issue of BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate as that would be akin to committing a “hit-wicket” and turn out to be the only possible reason for the main opposition losing the upcoming general elections.
The Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha had indicated that Mr. Modi should be declared BJP’s PM candidate.
Mr. Singh claimed BJP does not believe in the concept of hatred and said it was ready to correct any mistakes it could have committed. He said such “confusions” can be sorted out by talking to each other.
Defending the party’s ‘cultural nationalism’ concept, he said family values among Hindus and Muslims carry same importance in India. Quoting a philosopher, he said his words that “what is in you is in me” or “both are made of the same elements like the rest of the universe” hold equally good for the two communities.
Mr. Singh, who was flanked by party leaders Najma Heptulla, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Shahnawaz Hussain, said the three leaders were an example that BJP gives due importance to leaders from the minority community.
He said they all participate in important decision making.
He also said BJP governments in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Goa have ensured that minorities are not discriminated and are given their due.
Attacking Congress, he said a party which ruled the country for over 50 years should have ensured that relations between Hindus and Muslims improve. “...Was it not their responsibility?” he asked.
Quoting a report of a parliamentary Committee on Social Justice, he said out of a total budgetary outlay of over Rs. 2000 crore for minority welfare, over Rs. 900 crore were surrendered as it remained unutilised during the UPA rule.
Mr. Singh claimed several schemes meant for minorities remained “non starter” despite being announced by the UPA government.
He said that schemes for minorities conceived during the NDA rule, on the other hand, were hailed by the people who benefited.
Referring to the economy, he said the rupee was falling which was not good for the country and alleged that the Food Security Bill will further lead to a hike in the current account deficit (CAD).
His party had backed the ambitious Bill in Lok Sabha last week.