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Advani for Ram and soft secularism

india Updated: Feb 09, 2009 00:28 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times
Advani for Ram and soft secularism

In a bid to keep NDA allies as well as hard-core cadres happy, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani on Sunday did a balancing act — reaching out to all sections, including Muslims and Christians, and promising good governance, development and security if voted to power.

But he also added ‘we never gave up Ram’ as he wound up the party’s three-day conclave, after BJP chief Rajnath Singh reacted sharply to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s criticism that “those who mobilise people on religious lines, mislead people in the name of Ram cannot become an effective force against terror”.

Gandhi’s attack on the BJP for using the name of Lord Ram came at a Congress meeting in Delhi a day after Singh raked up the issue of building a Ram temple in Ayodhya at the BJP conclave.

“What’s wrong in wishing for a grand temple at the birth-place of Lord Ram? … We never gave up Ram. We can say Jai Shri Ram only when we finish the task of building a magnificent temple where the makeshift one stands today,” Advani declared.

Advani said the BJP’s success was not because secularism versus communalism debate but “because of those practising pseuo-secularism in the name of secularism.”

He had a message for the country’s Muslims: “You have been used by the ruling party to perpetuate itself without their doing anything for your welfare.”

Quoting the BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain, he said the per capita income among Muslims was highest in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat. “We believe in the welfare of all our people. I tell Christians too, how can we neglect them when our party in its avatar as BJP was born on an Easter Sunday in 1980.”

Advani recalled RSS ideologue M.S. Golwalkar had rejected the idea that India could ever become a Hindu theocratic state even though the Partition had taken place on religious lines – Muslim majority areas becoming Pakistan and Hindu-dominated areas forming India.

Advani, who praised the entire lot of second generation leaders, particularly Narendra Modi, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, gave a new slogan for the BJP – ‘If the BJP wins, India wins’.

He said “the victory we are seeking is not for Advani (to become the Prime Minister) but for the country to overcome its ills and set itself on a path of development, welfare and security”.

Advani asked BJP members to avoid self-goals by avoiding internal wrangling and intrigues.