Days before the long-anticipated announcement of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the BJP’s candidate for prime minister, party president Rajnath Singh has said the 2002 Gujarat riots were “unfortunate” but the chief minister was not responsible for the violence.
Rajnath Singh was addressing a national executive meeting of the BJP’s Minority Morcha where he attacked the Congress and his party’s other opponents for creating fissures in the country on the basis of religion, saying they had adopted a divide-and-rule policy.
“One of our states is Gujarat. I agree an unfortunate incident took place. Who does not agree that it was unfortunate? Attempts were made to blame Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as if the riots were planned by the chief minister,” he said.
Singh said he tries to “read” Modi’s expressions during their personal interactions.
“He looks so sad (about the blame game)…what is wrong with the people. Is it politics?” Singh said in reference to charges that Modi was behind the riots.
He said people should ask the Muslims of Gujarat whether they feel any discrimination under BJP rule. Singh also claimed the BJP does not believe in the concept of hatred, and said it was ready to correct any mistakes it could have committed.
He said any such confusion can be sorted out by talking to each other. “I want to say if there is any issue, if there is some confusion, then we can find a solution by talking to each other. When there is no scope to talk to each other, then problems (gadbad) can arise… wherever there is a mistake, we will correct it,” Singh said.
He also used the occasion to lash out at Congress, accusing it of adopting the British ‘divide-and-rule’ policy.
The minority morcha meeting was held for chalking strategy to reach out to the segment which keeps distance from the BJP. Mr. Singh, who was flanked by party leaders Najma Heptulla, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Shahnawaz Hussain, said the three leaders were an example that the BJP gives due importance to leaders from the minority community.
He said they all participate in important decision-making. Singh acknowledged that the perception of the minorities, particularly the Muslims, was against the BJP. He admitted that members of the minority community working for BJP find it difficult to propagate the party’s policies among people due to the perception created that the party was against taking minorities along.
“The perception is away from the reality. We do not indulge in such politics,” he maintained.
He said the party workers also find it difficult to make inroads into the minorities because of the perception which was away from reality.