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Rajnath raises Hindutva pitch

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Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi with party worker Smriti Irani during the party’s National Executive Meeting in Nagpur.
Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi with party worker Smriti Irani during the party’s National Executive Meeting in Nagpur.

Neena Vyas

“We will build a temple at Ayodhya if given the opportunity”

NAGPUR: Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh on Saturday brought the Ram temple issue once again to the fore of the party plank, appropriated Gandhian thought, ironically, for the sangh parivar, and demanded “direct action” against Pakistan if diplomatic initiatives failed to get the required response from it on the Mumbai terror attacks.

Mr. Singh promised, if given the opportunity, to build a grand temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. He was delivering the inaugural address at the party’s two-day National Council meeting that got under way here on Saturday.

He had maintained silence on Hindutva-related issues while addressing the National Executive Committee meeting on Friday.

Party general secretary Arun Jaitley clarified that the temple-promise was part of the BJP’s ideological plank, not that of the National Democratic Alliance that it led. The “agenda for governance,” if the NDA was voted to power, would be determined by the party in consultation with its allies, he said indicating that the Ram temple issue would again be put on the back burner, as it was done after the 1998 and 1999 Lok Sabha elections.

The Ramar Sethu issue was also mentioned as proof of the Congress party’s anti-majority stand.

The temple promise made by the party chief was meant to enthuse cadre. He departed from the written text to make this announcement, and was greeted with loud cheers by the several-thousand delegates present.

Mr. Singh’s charge was that the United Progressive Alliance government did not spend even five minutes attempting to resolve the Ayodhya dispute. A BJP-led government would certainly attempt to do that.

Mr. Jaitley later said a resolution of that dispute could be part of the NDA governance agenda.

Speaking in this city, headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Mr. Singh said: “Gandhian ethos, if at all visible, will not be found in that parivar of the Congress [indicating the Sonia Gandhi family] but in our parivar [the RSS and its affiliates].”

Great thinkers

He put Mahatma Gandhi and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, the Hindutva ideologue, in the same league of “great thinkers,” who talked about an inclusive economic, social, moral and spiritual development of youth.

Mr. Singh said that if there was no positive outcome from Pakistan in connection with the probe into the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks even after international diplomatic pressure, “the alternative of direct action should be resorted to.” This was seen as the BJP’s attempt to quickly endorse what Congress president Sonia Gandhi reportedly stated recently and to which the party spokesperson responded by saying war should not be used as a toll for winning an election.

Mr. Singh said that if the United States was now a strategic partner of India, then “it should stop all financial aid to Pakistan” until Pakistan “acts to control all terrorist outfits operating from its territory.”

Corrections and Clarifications

A sentence in the penultimate paragraph of a report "Rajnath raises Hindutvapitch" (February 8, 2009) was "This was seen as the BJP's attempt to quicklyendorse what Congress president Sonia Gandhi reportedly stated recently andto which the party spokesperson responded by saying war should not be usedas a toll for winning an election." The right word is "tool".

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