BJP president Nitin Gadkari plans to build a cadre of 10-20,000 odd Muslim BJP activists who will work to dispel the “wrong perceptions” many Muslims have about his party.
Speaking to senior editors of Hindustan Times, Gadkari said: “The BJP’s tragedy is that of perception versus reality. We are not against Muslims. Neither is the RSS against Muslims.”
<b1>How did he reconcile this with the BJP’s avowed purpose of propagating Hindutva? “Hindutva does not mean that only those going to temples should stay in India,” he said. “The Supreme Court has defined Hindutva, and there is nothing in it that is anti-Muslim. Even following dharma means doing one’s duty according to one’s calling and has nothing to do with religion.”
What about the BJP’s commitment to building a Ram temple in Ayodhya, a sore point with Muslims? Gadkari said the Ram temple was the aspiration of crores of people, but all political parties should come together to find an amicable solution to the dispute.
Gadkari said it was the Congress which had distorted the idea of secularism by engaging in minority appeasement, which had lately turned into ‘terrorist appeasement’, or else appeasement of infiltrators — a reference to illegal Bangladeshi immigration into India.
Asked about the RSS micro-managing the BJP’s affairs, Gadkari was emphatic. “I’m nobody’s man,” he said. “Nor is the RSS trying to control me.”
“Today, politics has come to mean power politics,” he added. “I want to change this. Politics for progress and development is my agenda.”