Patna, June 24;Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh said here on Monday that all riots were unfortunate and there had been several before the 2002 riots in Gujarat. He also attacked the Congress saying it suffered from “secularitis” and was trying to divert the nation’s attention from its failures.
The BJP president was recently reported appealing to Muslims to ignore the 2002 post-Godhra riots. “I said that 13,900 riots have taken place before 2002. There is no point in rubbing salt into old wounds. The 1984 anti-Sikh riots were provoked by a senior Congress leader,” he said at a press conference here.
Asked categorically if he would apologise for the Gujarat riots, Mr. Singh remained evasive and said, “All riots are unfortunate. I have said this much.”
He accused the Congress of raking up the name of Narendra Modi every time the elections are round the corner.
“They just use Mr. Modi’s name as an excuse to create a divide between communalism and secularism to hide their failures in governance. Just like Encephalitis is a dreaded ailment, the country should be saved from the disease of ‘secularitis.’ The Congress is the most communal party. It is the worst affected by ‘secualritis’. After such a long rule in the country, they should have fostered harmony among various groups. Instead they used the divide and rule policy,” Mr. Singh said.
The Congress and the “so-called” secular parties were trying to create a “fear psychosis” only to get the minority vote.
“When there are elections, the Congress starts targeting Narendra Modi. I want to tell the Opposition parties that we must understand the Congress’ strategy. This is a conspiracy in which the Congress wants to trap all Opposition parties.”
Asked if its former ally Janata Dal (United) had fallen in the Congress’ trap, Mr. Singh said, “Everyone should be alert. It’s a big game plan by the Congress.”
Referring to the CBI probe in the Ishrat Jahan encounter killing case, the BJP leader questioned the selective probing of such an incident.
“Prolonged investigations have been going on in some encounters. Did such encounters happen only in Gujarat? Had any such probe been initiated in any of them or their probe reports made public?”
The likelihood of pre-poll alliances “cannot be ruled out,” however, no efforts were currently underway, Mr. Singh said. The BJP wished to increase its strength and that of its allies.
He evaded answering whom the BJP considered its key opponent in Bihar – Nitish Kumar or Lalu Prasad saying the BJP did not treat anyone as an opponent.
Asked when the BJP would announce Mr. Modi’s candidature for the prime ministerial post, now that the JD (U) is out, Mr. Singh said the party would decide on the matter and declare in due time.
Presenting a bleak picture of Indian economy, Mr. Singh said the constantly falling rupee had become a senior citizen. Fiscal and current account deficit were rising and to make matters worse the growth rate had also plunged to five per cent. India was experiencing jobless growth and widening income disparities posed the risk of social unrest.
“Income disparities are growing because of the wrong policies and planning of the Congress-led government. And yet the government made baseless claims about growth. The economic situation is worrying. As per the recent National Sample Survey Office’s data, the poor live only on Rs. 17 in the villages and Rs. 23 in the cities. The number of people engaged in agriculture has nearly halved,” he said.
He called for prioritising the agricultural sector. In the wake of the Uttarakhand tragedy, he underscored the need to formulate a comprehensive policy on pilgrimage sites located in disaster-prone areas and implementing inter-linking of rivers. He cast doubts on the role of the National Disaster Management Authority, pointing to the concerns raised by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
On the food security bill, Mr. Singh said the BJP wanted it passed, albeit with certain amendments, pertaining to preserving the federal structure of government.