In an apparent bid to redefine the image of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) current poster boy Narendra Modi, party’s national chief Rajnath Singh batted for the Gujarat chief minister over the latter’s alleged involvement in the 2002 post-Godhra riots. So he called the Congress “communal” before appealing to followers of “JP, Lohia and Mahatma Gandhi” to join hands for a “Congress mukt Bharat”.
Singh’s defence of Modi for the second consecutive day made it clear that the ‘NaMo’ chants would get shriller closer to 2014 LS polls within the Rajnath-led BJP, which is hoping to reap dividends from a Modified party specially in UP where Singh admitted he was aiming at 40 plus seats in his home state. Paradoxically, Singh also made token gestures towards Muslims apparently to increase the acceptability of the BJP – and possibly that of Modi, the man in-charge of the party campaign.
Even though it wasn’t clear how the party planned to manage this inherent dichotomy – Modi and Muslims – but the BJP chief did give a hint of the party line when he spoke of “justice for all, appeasement of none”. He followed it up with his indigenously manufactured “secularitis” –a disease, he said, that had gripped the Congress since Modi’s rise. He then picked up a word from the RSS lexicon – panth nirpeksh (the sangh parivar’s version of secularism) to counter the Congress’s ‘dharm nirpeksh’ and reeling off statistics on the total number of communal riots and tension that have taken place under the Congress.
“Nearly 3,900 communal riots and tensions under the Congress are sufficient to prove who is communal. In fact, at the moment the Congress is busy flaring up the secular vs communal debate to divert attention over its all round failure during its forgettable rule,” he said at a press conference.
For the record, the BJP chief also dropped in party patriarch LK Advani’s name saying he was and would continue to be the party’s leader and guardian. He denied Advani was angry at Modi’s elevation and also spoke of bringing the country’s ‘black billions’ back.