Modi invites Taslima to stay in Gujarat

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Botad, Gujarat, Nov 27 (UNI) Chief Minister Narendra Modi today invited Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, who was forced to flee Marxist-ruled West Bengal last week, to stay in Gujarat.

Launching the election campaign of the BJP from this small town in Bhavnagar district, the Chief Minister told a public meeting that Taslima was welcome to stay in Gujarat and work in the field of literature and serve mankind.

''Sonia's allies made Taslima run away from West Bengal. The Centre is trying to send her out of the country. But Taslima has been courageous enough to speak out against fundamentalists,'' Mr Modi said while adding that if the Central Government cannot look after her, then they can send her to Gujarat.

The 5.5 crore people in Gujarat and the state government will protect her, he said.

''I will welcome her in Gujarat,'' the Chief Minister told the gathering despite the fact that Taslima, who faces death threats from Islamic groups, has criticised Mr Modi in her book.

Mr Modi's invitation to Taslima is seen as one to embarass the Left since Qutubuddin Ansari, ''The face of Gujarat riots'', had been rehabilitated in West Bengal after the riots. Ansari went to Bengal but returned to Gujarat after one year.

Extremist Muslims accuse Taslima of blasphemy over her 1994 novel ''Lajja (Shame)'' and have called for her execution.

Taslima was rushed out of Kolkata to Rajasthan following riots in West Bengal and demands by Muslims to expel her from India. She is now staying at an undisclosed location in New Delhi.

The 45-year-old doctor-turned-author, Taslima, arrived in Delhi after the Rajasthan government, also led by BJP, told her to leave for ''security reasons.'' She had been living in Kolkata since 2004, after spending time in Europe and the United States.

The BJP has already asked the Central Government to allow Taslima to stay in the country.


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