Special Correspondent

Party office-bearers hold meeting to review preparedness for polls in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat

Demands political refugee status for Taslima Nasreen

“Nandigram exposed the real face of the Communists”

NEW DELHI: Warming up for next month’s elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday decided to focus on issues such as Nandigram, Taslima Nasreen, serial blasts in Uttar Pradesh and the recent incidents of violence in Assam.

At a meeting of party office-bearers here, the BJP, in a resolution, demanded that the Bangladeshi writer be treated as a political refugee in India with a right to live with dignity and security. The resolution said Ms. Nasreen was entitled to all the rights given to the Tibetan refugees.

“Taslima Nasreen is a victim of religious persecution in Bangladesh. She is a refugee in India. To eject a refugee under pressure from religious groups is to submit to hardline Islamic fundamentalists,” the resolution said, while criticising the “silence of the Prime Minister and the Centre” over the issue.

The meeting was attended by all State unit presidents and party general secretaries. The agenda was to review the preparedness for elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, and also look at the developments in Karnataka. It was also to look at the possibility of early general elections and chalk out the strategy to put “BJP in every polling booth” across the country.

Addressing the meeting, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani described Nandigram as the “turning point” in the country’s political history and that it exposed the “real face of the Communists.” He said the BJP was engaged in a political battle with the Congress, and an ideological fight with the Communists.

Party president Rajnath Singh said that while the CPI(M) and the Congress preached secularism, they practised communalism. He was referring to the handling of the Nandigram situation and Ms. Nasreen by the West Bengal government.

On the India-U.S. civilian nuclear deal, the BJP chief said it had exposed the “political opportunism” of both the Congress and the CPI(M).

The resolution on Nandigram criticised the CPI(M) for being “hostile to any form of dissent.” The BJP took note of the Congress’ “doublespeak” on Nandigram and said it was obvious that the Congress “lacks the confidence to criticise the CPI(M).”

For the serial blasts outside courts in Faizabad, Varanasi and Lucknow, the BJP blamed the “soft-on-terror” policy of the UPA government. “The U.P. attacks were symbolic of the terrorists’ ability to strike at will. They remind us of the helplessness of the Indian government,” the resolution said.