Flanked by ailing former Prime Minister and five-time Lucknow MP Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s aide Shiv Kumar and Atal’s protégé and outgoing Lucknow MP Lalji Tandon, Bharatiya Janata Party chief Rajnath Singh appealed to Muslims to give his party a chance in the Lok Sabha polls.
Singh even said his party was ready to give tickets to Muslims. “In many states we have done that. If someone has applied and is a serious candidate, there is no question of not considering his candidature,” Rajnath said.
Singh, who was warmly welcomed by the party’s minority cell volunteers on his arrival here on Wednesday, had earlier offered to apologise to the minorities for any “past mistakes”.
The gesture was made not just for the Muslim-dominated Lucknow but also to keep NDA allies and other parties engaged if the BJP falls short of the majority mark of 272 in the Lok Sabha.
Demanding the SP government’s resignation after the apex court observed that the Muzaffarnagar riots were due to administrative and intelligence failures, Singh said, “If this government has an iota of morality left, it must resign immediately, now that the indictment has come from the apex court itself. But I wonder why those who have been after Modi despite his having been given a clean chit in connection with the 2002 (Gujarat) riots are silent against the SP. Why this double standard?” he asked.
Careful not to be seen as offending those who were once considered close to Vajpayee, Rajnath said good things about veteran Jaswant Singh, who is standing from Barmer as an independent and Lalji Tandon, whom the BJP chief replaced in Lucknow as the party candidate.
“I am still hopeful that Jaswant Singhji will withdraw his nomination from Barmer. We have a high regard for him,” the BJP chief said.