Thursday, May 29, 2003
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Addressing a `Samarasata' (social harmony) rally in this Muslim-dominated constituency organised by the party general secretary, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, he listed the Rs. 120-crore Haj subsidy and the recently launched Lucknow-Jeddah flight among the achievements of the BJP-led NDA Government, which, he claimed, did not discriminate between Hindus and Muslims.
The proposed Commission on reservation for the economically backward in Government jobs, would also benefit the Muslims, he said. "There is no question of imposing our agenda on others. The Ram temple should be built either through court, legislation or negotiation. There is no question of acting under pressure (from the Sangh Parivar) or violating the law," Mr. Naidu said. Asserting that the Hindus were the soul of India, he said the BJP wanted a grand temple built at Ayodhya but also favoured a mosque constructed alongside.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the BJP's Sangh Parivar ally, has been opposing the construction of a mosque anywhere in the `Panchkosi Parikrama' surrounding the temple.
Pointing out that it was the Congress that had opened the locks of the disputed shrine and allowed shilanyas, Mr. Naidu said the Congress had always used Muslims as a vote bank and the community should not get into that trap. ``We are one nation, we are one people, join the BJP, it is your party,'' he told the largely Muslim audience.
Though the party wanted more Muslims in the Cabinet, it did not have enough candidates. "If you send more numbers of your community to the Lok Sabha on a BJP ticket, the Ministers will also increase in proportion," he promised.
The film star-turned Union Minister, Shatrughan Sinha, a star attraction at the rally, dismissed the "propaganda" about the party being communal and appealed to the minorities to join the mainstream and support the BJP.
Mr. Naqvi, who was defeated from here in the last Lok Sabha polls, sought a mandate for the party on the planks of security, prosperity and social harmony.
Earlier, Mr. Naidu said he had on several occasions visited a `dargah' (memorial for Muslim saints) and offered prayers. "I myself go to the dargah in my native place,'' he told the rally.
While asserting that Hindutva was the soul of India, he said the term `Hindu' denoted a cultural heritage and not a religious identity. PTI
Our Special Correspondent reports:
Turning to the foreign origins of the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, the State BJP president, Vinay Katiyar, said, "the Congress first imported wheat and oil to feed the people. Now it is trying to impose a foreign woman as a leader on the country". The Union Agriculture Minister, Rajnath Singh, reiterated this point while referring to the bachelor status of the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee. Mr. Vajpayee remained a bachelor to serve the country. "In contrast, Sonia Gandhi renounced her country for the sake of her marriage," he said. "The country," Mr. Singh added, "would never allow a foreign woman to rule over its people".
The reconciliatory appeal to the Muslims by the BJP leaders today, however, was in direct contrast to the tone and tenor of the speeches made by Mr. Katiyar, who has been calling upon the people to revive the spirit of 1991 when the BJP had polarised the State on communal lines. He has been raising all contentious issues, including the abrogation of Article 370, imposition of a common civil code and cornering the Muslims on the question of family planning during his State-wide march "to awaken the people about the concept of cultural nationalism".
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