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Why BJP is silent on Saddam?

The decision to abstain from any comment came after consultations among senior BJP leaders, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2006 19:51 IST

The BJP has decided to silent on the execution of Saddam Hussein not just because it does not want to appear to dilute the Hindutva image.

The decision to abstain from any comment came after consultations among senior BJP leaders who concluded that the party should steer clear of being either pro-Saddam Hussein or pro-US.

"If we condemn the execution, it will appear the party is backing Saddam Hussein, which is not the impression we want to give," said a senior BJP functionary.

"Secondly", said the BJP leader, "Hussein is not universally accepted leader of Muslims. If we recall that Hussein was not exactly a hero of all the Iraqis as he was disliked by the Shias and the Kurds who were tormented under his regime, we will appear to be backing the US or its occupation of Iraq, which is not true."

Some BJP leaders were not sure of the reaction of the Shias to the hanging of Hussein. The Shias are in a sizeable number in Uttar Pradesh, particularly in former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee's Lok Sabha constituency of Lucknow.

"Therefore", said the BJP functionary, "we do not have to comment on every issue. We can choose silence."

BJP president Rajnath Singh's words, "we in India should not be influenced by events outside and political parties here should not disturb normalcy on that account."

Singh was referring to call for bandh given by the CPI (M) in Kerala and the Samajwadi Party's protest in UP. He and other BJP leaders believe that the "secular" parties will try to "whip up" the sentiments of the Muslims in India for "vote-bank politics."

On December 27, reacting to an Iraqi appeals court's decision confirming the death sentence for the former Iraqi ruler; the BJP had said, "The international community had to decide whether the trial has been free and fair."

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javedekar had stated then that the court's decision was part of that country's "judicial process" but "the world community has to see whether he got a free and fair trial." The BJP reacted a day after the Ministry of External Affairs said India hoped the death sentence would not be carried out and former president's life would be spared.