New Delhi, Nov 2 (UNI) Chipping away at the image of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as an icon of Hindutva, Bharatiya Janshakti Party chief Uma Bharati has said Mr Modi is ''a pseudo Hindu leader under whose rule the Hindus suffered immeasurably'' in the state.
''Narendra Modi's brand of Hindutva is totally different. Modi has absolutely no time to even think how Hintutva can be brought about in the 21st century. Gujarat also witnessed deaths of so many Hindus, but the media does not consider the deaths of Hindus as deaths,'' Ms Bharti told 'Oultlook' (Hindi) in an interview.
Elaborating, Ms Bharti, the one-time firebrand BJP leader who was expelled for her trenchant remarks against that party's top leadership, said the media criticised Mr Modi on the basis of deaths of Muslims alone, which made him a ''hero'' in the eyes of the Hindu populace.
''Whatever has come to light recently on the Gujarat riots reveals not 'Hindutva' but 'Moditva','' she said.
The former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister was also unsparing in her criticism of BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani.
''If Advani raises the issue of the Ram Sethu, the entire movement will become ridiculous. History bears testimony to the fact that Advani could not maintain his stand on whatever issues he raised,'' she said.
Ms Bharti said the BJP leader took out 'rath' processions on the Ayodhya issue, but apologised for it by going to Pakistan. ''After coming to power at the Centre, he put the issue of swadeshi on the backburner. But Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee is just the opposite of him.
He does not hide his ideology and he does not go against his conviction.'' She said if the Ram Sethu movement has to succeed, it would require an active support from Mr Vajpayee.
Asked about Mr Modi raising the issue of the Ram Sethu in the coming assembly elections, she said Mr Modi does not have any right to talk on it. ''Mr Modi never went to have a look at Ram Sethu but made it a part of his election campaign...Can Modi say what he has done for the Dwarka and other pilgrimage centres in Gujarat? In fact, the issue of Ram Sethu in the Gujarat assembly elections is only a ploy to fool the people.'' She also said the BJP-led NDA government had taken an official decision to demolish the Ram Sethu and the document for this carried the signature of the then Shipping Minister Shatrughan Sinha.
''The file mentions not Ram Sethu, but the Adam's bridge...In fact, there was nobody in the Prime Minister's Office then who could view official plans with the Hindutva perspective. In view of this, such mistakes were bound to happen.'' Ms Bharti said she had sent a letter to Mr Vajpayee in February 2003, requesting him to save the Ram Sethu from demolition. ''This letter could have been placed before the Cabinet which was then considering it. By doing so, the BJP could have saved itself from such a grave error.'' Observing that both Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani are big leaders of the country, she said they should apologise to the people on this issue. ''I believe this will set things right,'' she added.
Asked about her party's strategy in the Gujarat elections, she said people like Mr Keshubhai Patel and Mr Praveen Togadia, who she described as real Hindu leaders, should part company with the BJP and come on a common platform.
''I am willing to tread with them. I am fully convinced that people of Gujarat will give a solid rebuff to 'Modtiva' and approve 'Hindutva'. It is very important to rid Gujarat of the Modi brand of politics,'' she said.