Ready to apologise for ‘mistake’, if any, he says

In a bid to reach out to minorities ahead of the April-May Lok Sabha polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday offered to apologise for any “mistake” committed in the past, an apparent reference to the 2002 Gujarat riots. The party asserted that it did not treat minorities as “instruments of political power.”

BJP president Rajnath Singh said there was a myth being propagated that the party was not “secular” and urged Muslims to give it a chance by voting for it in the general election.

Speaking at a programme ‘Modi For PM Mission 272+ Role of Muslims,’ organised here by the minority morcha of the BJP and the Rashtriya Muslim Manch, the BJP chief said: “If we have made a mistake, we will bow our head and apologise.” He sought to clarify the meaning of Hindutva that the party is seen to propagate. “Even the courts have clarified that Hindutva is a way of life.”

Mr. Singh said while the Gujarat riots of 2002 seemed to have become a reference point for communal violence against Muslims, there were several instances of clashes that affected the community. Charging other political parties with targeting the BJP over the 2002 Gujarat riots, he said such parties were themselves guilty of pursuing “vote bank” and “divisive” politics.

“There was a Congress Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia under whose watch more than 5,000 Muslims were killed in less than 24 hours in Assam. Weren’t mosques and mausoleums destroyed when Hitendra Desai was the Congress Chief Minister in Gujarat? Has there never been any communal violence in India ever?” he asked, speaking at the launch of a book, Moditva later in the day.

Blaming the Congress for underdevelopment of Muslims, he said: “The Congress has ruled for more than 55 years since Independence. What have they done for so long? Why are the Muslims still poor? We have always maintained that reservation should be on the basis of economic criteria, not religion or caste.”

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