Gadkari’s appeal to Muslims: be generous, give up Ayodya claim

published on February 18, 2010

INDORE: Bringing to the fore yet again the party’s pet issue, new BJP President Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said Ram temple in Ayodhya is its soul and appealed to the Muslims to adopt a “generous” attitude by giving up their claim on the disputed site.

In his Presidential address at the opening of the two-day National Council here, he also spoke on issues seeking to broadbase support for the party like wooing Dalits and minorities and the need to instill a new work culture in the organisation without resorting to sycophancy.

Leaving no one in doubt about the party’s stand on issues like Ayodhya and alleged minority appeasement, 52-year-old Gadkari, the RSS choice for the post, said “the BJP stands fully committed to the construction of a grand temple in Ayodhya”.

“Today, I appeal to the Muslim community to be generous towards the sentiments and feelings of Hindus and facilitate the construction of a grand Ram temple. If you (Muslims) give up your claim on the land at the disputed site, we will cooperate in the construction of a magnificent masjid in a nearby land,” he said.

Gadkari’s remarks are seen as a new attempt by the BJP to revive the Ram Janmabhoomi issue while at the same time making a bid to co-opt the minorities.

The opening session also saw the former President Rajnath Singh apologising to partymen for any wrong decisions taken during his term that witnessed bitter infighting among middle-rung leaders, especially after the Lok Sabha debacle last year.

Gadkari was scathing in his criticism of the Government on its alleged attempts at minority appeasement. He, however, said it was wrong to say that BJP was against Muslims. If it was so, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani would not have made A P J Abdul Kalam the nation’s President.

Apparently referring to AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh’s visit to Azamgarh, he said that “some Congress leaders have converted suspected dens of terrorists as places of political pilgrimage. Repeated visits of politicians to those areas have emboldened the enemies of the nation”.

Preparing his party for a long haul, Gadkari spoke of plans to raise the party’s vote share by 10 per cent and appealed to partymen to reach out to the under-privileged sections, such as the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities in a “big way”.

“People are waiting for political workers who would respond to their agonies and aspirations. They are keen to join us provided we connect with them.

“Remember, we just cannot afford to fail. Let us make a collective resolve to increase our vote share at least by 10 per cent by breaking new grounds and taking new initiatives.”, he said.

Gadkari also sought to bring a new work culture in the organisation by telling partymen to desist from sycophancy, assuring them that performance will be rewarded and sending a clear signal that the leadership will have “zero tolerance to indiscipline”.”We will try to develop a culture of cohesiveness in the organisation but will also have zero tolerance to indiscipline”, Gadkari said.

“Let us strive collectively to overcome the recent temporary setback and bounce back with renewed vigour,” he said.

The reference to “temporary setback” was obviously to the defeat of the party in the Lok Sabha elections last year for the second time after 2004.

Gadkari conceded “our party too faces stiff challenges, which we must candidly admit, objectively understand and resolutely overcome.”

Asking partymen to refrain from actions like touching the feet of leaders like him , he said that this was a “symbol of servility” and does not go well with a party like BJP which proclaims itself as a party with a difference.

Touching the feet of veterans like L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi is another thing, but to do with other leaders who are in authority does not send the correct message, was his refrain.

“If you deserve it you will get it. I have become the party chief without visiting the residences of party leaders or spending on bouquets, garlands or cutouts,” Gadkari said.

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