New Delhi : Indicating that the BJP is going all out to woo the Muslim community that has remained electorally alienated from it, party president Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday:”I assure you. If there has been any mistake, we will bow down and ask for forgiveness. Try us once. (If) We don’t come up to your expectations, don’t look at us ever again.”
But the BJP president did not make any reference to the post Godhra 2002 riots that are the bone of contention between the Muslims and the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
The BJP chief, clearly enthused by recent opinion polls which have predicted a surge for the BJP, further asked the Muslim community not to vote for a government, but for a strong nation, where brotherhood and humanity shall prevail.
To allay misgivings, Rajnath Singh also said that for the BJP the country’s Constitution is its religion and Hindutva is nothing but a way of life. Taking off on this theme, he added that Narendra Modi, too, has defined secularism as “India first.”
He further questioned the Congress for projecting itself as a “messiah of the minority community” and demanded what it had done for them since independence.
Claiming that members of the minority community have been siding with the BJP, he declared that hundreds of Muslims have won on BJP symbol in civic bodies in Gujarat, where Muslims also enjoy the highest per capita income in the country. This, he said, has been achieved during the 10-year rule of Modi.
However, the Congress spokesperson from Gujarat Shaktisinh Gohil took a very dim view of the BJP president’s appeal to the Muslims. “The fact is that Gujarat has 182 MLAs, 26 Lok Sabha seats, and sends several members to Rajya Sabha. Why is it then that in the years that Modi has been the chief minister in Gujarat, there has been not a single candidate for any of these seats from the Muslim community,” he said.
Gohil said that it is not a matter of simply saying sorry or being apologetic. ‘‘The point is whether this apology is genuine or it is just a matter of political posturing,” he added.
On his part, Modi has been avoiding any references to this issue during the pre-election campaign rallies that he has been addressing across the country.