M A I N   N E W S

Gadkari heralds a subtle shift
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

Indore, February 18
A subtle shift in emphasis marked the change that took place with new BJP president Nitin Gadkari formally relieving outgoing president Rajnath Singh at party’s national council meeting here today.

The sub-text of RSS inspiration was also evident in Gadkari’s inaugural address to party’s national council members assembled here to ratify his election.

He revived three core Sangh issues, Ram Mandir, Article 370 and Common Civil Code, but avoided any stridency. He said, “The BJP stands fully committed to the construction of a grand Ram Temple at Ayodhya. I appeal to the Muslim community to be generous and facilitate its construction. This would herald a new amity and reinforce a resurgent India.”

On J&K (read Article 370), he said, “Far from making any moves for complete constitutional integration of J&K with the Union of India, the UPA government appears to be coming round to the view that Kashmir deserves to be treated separately. From this position to the actual separation is but a step away…. We will never let this happen. We are prepared to make any sacrifice for ensuring that J&K remains an integral part of India.”

About the Common Civil Code, he merely made a passing remark, but it was enough to tell the RSS bosses that their man was on the right course. While chiding AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, who sought special courts to expeditiously try out Batla House encounter accused, he said, “So far they were only opposing the Common Civil Code, now they don’t want a Common Criminal Code also.”

He also raised the Nepal issue and forcefully asked to secure Nepal from the “evil designs of foreign and foreign-aided forces (read China and Maoists).” He said, “The BJP is as committed to the security of Nepal as to India’s.”

He said, “We are planning a major nationwide campaign for building capacities of our party workers, party functionaries and elected representatives at every level. This Prashikshan Maha Yojana (training programme)… I expect every party worker to participate in and serve the party. We are planning a three-phase structured training programme for party workers. Comprehensive syllabi for all major sections of party rank and file will also be drafted very soon. I call upon all our state units to set up such training centres as well as research and development wings within the party units.”

For the rest, Gadkari’s speech was more or less a repetition of what he said to the national executive yesterday.

In contrast to Gadkari, the outgoing president was far more strident and direct in his attack on the Muslims. While opposing the proposed reservation for Muslims, which the Ranganath Mishra Committee has recommended, Rajnath Singh questioned justification behind the same saying, “We have never imposed any jaziya, we never demolished mandirs and stupas of other people’s religion, we were not the ones who bombed out the historical Bamiyan Budha statues, we didn’t slaughter the sons of Guru Gobind Singh, we have never subjected anyone to any atrocities then why should they seek reservations now?” He warned the BJP that if it wavered from its basic character, it would be finished.



Mosque in return of temple
Gadkari’s ‘exchange’ offer raises hackles
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

Indore, February 18
The new BJP president Nitin Gadkari stirred a hornet’s nest here today by offering Muslims the reconstruction of Babri Mosque, if they agreed to the construction of Ram temple at the disputed site.But apparently under pressure from the Singh Parivar, the party hurriedly, subtly and suitably amended his offer.

Interestingly, Gadkari deviated from the written text circulated midway during his inaugural address at the two-day national council meet. “If the Muslims cooperate in constructing the Ram Mandir, we assure them that we will also cooperate in the construction of a mosque next door (baaju mein),” he said.

But that seemed to have raised hackles with other Mandir votaries in the Sangh. Sources said, immediately after this speech, phone calls from leaders of the Sangh, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal started pouring in questioning Gadkari’s wisdom and competence. Interestingly, just before the BJP pulled support from VP Singh-led National Front government in 1990, Singh had tried to work out a similar formula whereby Muslims were willing to permit the construction of the temple adjoining the Masjid, if the VHP and others concerned committed to bring no harm to the historical mosque.

However, the BJP was quick to refine Gadkari’s statement. Addressing a press conference, party spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy claimed that the BJP chief actually meant was that “if the Muslims cooperate in the construction of a magnificent temple, after due consultations with all concerned, we will cooperate in the construction of a mosque at an appropriate place.” This naturally leaves too many ifs and buts to be considered as a serious offer, remarked a political observer.

BJP out to display green love

The 90-acre plot on the Agra-Mumbai Highway, which the BJP is showcasing as its connect with the rural folk for the three-day national executive council, is the site for a swank modern township called Omaxe City, being developed by Omaxe group.It is dotted by 1,300 tents to house 5,000 delegates to sell this party of upwardly mobile urban middle class to the rural folk. A cow and her young one are lazing under a hurriedly put up hutment close to the entrance. A stone’s throw away is a man baking fresh “bhuttas” (maize). 

It is also an attempt by the new BJP president Nitin Gadkari to give an eco-friendly image to the party. Madhya Pradesh Industries Minister Kailash Vijayvarghiya has arranged CNG tempos and even bicycles to ferry people to and from the venue of the council. But not a single member out of the 75 NE members gave a second look to this healthy mode of transport, instead they would rather be chauffeured in motorised transport.



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