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BJP ready to shake hands with Cong if it eschews 'minorityism'

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 4 (UNI) Former BJP President L K Advani today gave ample indications that his party was ready to shake hands with the Congress if it reversed its ''politics of minorityism''.

''The day the Congress party honestly accepts that 'communalisation of domestic policy is not in India's national interest, and reverses its politics of minorityism, a firm foundation will have been laid for the two principal national parties in India's bipolar polity --BJP and Congress-- to make a common cause in a very wide area of politics and governance,'' the former Deputy Prime Minister said at a joint press conference with party President Rajnath Singh ahead of their 'Suraksha Yatras' from Rajkot and Bhubaneswar respectively on April 6.

Criticising the UPA's ''appeasement policy'' stating it may lead to another division of the country, he said the BJP was firmly against the notion of ''majority'' and ''minority'' gaining roots in the political system of India.

''This divisive mindset jeopardises India as one united, integral and harmonious nation,'' Mr Advani said.

In a statement, the two leaders agreed with Congress President Sonia Gandhi's observation in a party magazine that ''some political parties are trying to communalise foreign policy for short term electoral gains...we do not think that religion can or should be the matrix for national interest in a country as linguistically and religiously pluralistic as India.'' They, however, asked her and the Congress to introspect on whether it was right to communalise India's domestic policy. ''Is it in the national interest for religion to be the matrix in matters of reservations, infiltration from Bangladesh, census in the armed forces?'' they asked.

Mr Advani described Ms Gandhi's statement as ''positive'', but regretted that the Congress spokesman denied the very next day that it was aimed at the Left parties for mobilising Muslims for anti-Bush demonstrations recently.

He said ''minorityism and failures of the UPA government on all fronts'' were the main reasons for the BJP to decide to take out the yatras which had a five-fold objective -- highlight national security, defend national unity, expose corruption in high places, save parliamentary democracy and protect economic security of the common man.

The two BJP leaders said the politics of minorityism, if unchecked, would prove a disaster for the country. ''What needs to be understood by all concerned is that, far from helping the minorities, it actually undermines their development and well-being,'' they said.

Cautioning the people against the politics of minorityism, Mr Advani said the recent ''dangerous'' act of appeasement was the head-count of Muslims in the armed forces. If communal reservations in jobs and education were accepted, it would lead to demands for such reservations in security forces, judiciary, Parliament and state legislatures.

He also criticised the government for its ''inaction'' in checking the demographic invasion taking place in the north-eastern states, with large-scale Bangladeshi illegal migrants. Similarly, the government was going soft on ''jehadi terrorism'', he alleged.

Mr Advani took exception to the ''government propaganda'' to paint the BJP as anti-Muslim. The BJP, he said, did not associate terrorism with any particular religion, nor did it suspect any particular community to be a supporter of terrorism.

''Our adversaries' propaganda in this regard is false, perverse and self-serving,'' he said.

Mr Advani made it clear that the BJP was neither against minorities -- Muslims or others -- nor against any minority faith in India. ''We respect all faiths, including Islam. India belongs equally to all Indians, irrespective of their caste or creed.'' He described Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement on inflitration from Bangladesh as ''hypocritical'', saying Dr Singh needed to explain why his government had tried to re-introduce the IMDT Act through the backdoor.

On the Indo-US nuclear deal, Mr Advani said the BJP viewed with concern reports about political hurdles in America over the deal. If these were true, the Prime Minister must give an explanation to the nation on a matter which was important to national security.


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