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September 11, 2000
Don't blow PM's Hindu statements out of context: BJP
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
The Bharatiya Janata Party leadership sees no controversy in Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's speech on Saturday on Staten Island. His oblique references to the Ram temple in Ayodhya and Article 370 of the Constitution are "well-known positions" for which a controversy is "superfluous," BJP leaders told rediff.com on Monday morning.
"What Vajpayeeji said merely underlined what could have been and not what is going to be. So why should there be any controversy?" BJP vice-president K Jana Krishnamurthy asked.
As far as the prime minister's assertion that nobody could deny him his status as a swayamsevak was concerned, "Everybody knows he is a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for over six decades. But despite that, he is successfully running the government and his utterances in Staten Island can only be misunderstood by those who want to deliberately misunderstand him," Krishnamurthy said.
He did not think the BJP's allies would worry too much about the speech because "the prime minister has the serious business of running the government and his statements ought to be read in perspective and not blown out of context."
BJP spokesman M Venkaiah Naidu voiced similar sentiments and pointed out that the Ayodhya issue and Article 370 were not on the National Democratic Alliance agenda of governance. What the prime minister had said, Naidu added, was well-known for which generating controversy is needless.
A BJP general secretary, who did not wish to be identified, said "Vajpayeeji was playing to the gallery at Staten Island." He said the event organised by the Indian American community had a strong presence of Vishwa Hindu Parishad sadhus and leaders like Ashok Singhal, the fire and brimstone-spewing Acharya Giriraj Kishore and known RSS hardliner, Gujarat Governor Sunder Singh Bhandari.
This BJP official pointed out that following the party's Nagpur conclave during which the government's critics like K N Govindacharya and Sushma Swaraj were sidelined, the VHP sadhus and sants wanted to know "the prime minister's mindset." When Vajpayee was invited to speak at the Staten Island event, there was little he could do except what he did, the BJP general secretary emphasised, adding that "he had no option."
rediff.com has assigned Associate Editors Amberish K Diwanji and Savera R Someshwar to cover Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to the United States. Don't forget to log into rediff.com for news of this historic visit as it happens!
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