New Delhi, Feb 27: Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani has cautioned the Government against pursuing 'politics of minorityism,' saying it was not in the interest of the country.
In an interview to a private TV channel, he said that sectoral concerns would in no way lead to development of the country and in fact votebank politics was posing a threat to its unity and integrity. "Though what the Government is doing in respect of minorities are issues affecting the security of country. The Government will have to pay a heavy price for it. The Muslims of the country have also started to realise that they are being used as a votebank," he said.
He wondered why the Government had thought of ascertaining the social status of Muslims only after 58 years of independence.
"It was not only him who had demanded scrapping of the Sachar Committee, which had ordered head-counts of Muslims in the country, but there was even widespread opposition on the matter in the defence forces," he said.
"You don't accept my demand, but at least pay attention to what our security forces think about it," the former Deputy Prime Minister said.
Mr Advani said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government was pursuing such policies with the sole aim of playing votebank politics.
The former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President said the Muslims had never gained socially or economically by the appeasement policies of the Congress, pursued during their 45-year rule. "Instead, it had damaged them," he said.
He said he was not sure whether the Congress or the BJP gained by the controversy surrounding the Shahbano case, but the country remained at a definite loss by it.
When pointed out that if the BJP's 'anti-muslim' image had resulted into the party's lesser votebank as compared to the Congress, Mr Advani denied any such reason while referring to the pre-1947 days.
He said the Congress did not have any anti-Muslim image before partition, when it had leaders like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and Vallabh Bhai Patel. But still partition of the country took place as Muslims went ahead with 'sepratist agenda of Muslim league.' When asked if his party would also indulge in 'minorityism,' to increase its vote base, the former BJP President said, "We are against it." Rejecting a sectoral approach on issues like poverty and backwardness, Mr Advani said, "I would suggest Congress President and Prime Minister to read the debates on such issues, particularly religious minority, in the Constituent Assembly." He said the suggestion of providing reservation to religious minorities was rejected by the then Minority Committee set up under the Chairmanship of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, who had observed, "I look forward the day where there will be no majority and minority in India but one community, community of Indians." But in huge contrast, the present Government had constituted a Minority Ministry, he pointed out.
The BJP stalwart said internal security was the biggest issue today and continuing influx of illegal immigrants from across the Bangladesh border poses a threat to the stability of the country.
He said the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government was against the IMDT Act from the very beginning and wanted to repeal it.
The NDA, however, failed to do so during its tenure as the matter was subjudice. He said the BJP was of the view if the Foreigners Act was found to be enough to deal with the illegal immigration, why Assam needed another Act like IMDT.
Mr Advani also felt strongly against corruption.