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The Rediff Interview/Sunil Dutt, Congress MP
June 26, 2003
Despite poor health, actor-politician Sunil Dutt was busy meeting party workers last week, to coordinate his nation-wide anti-communalism campaign Sadbhavna ke Sipahi or soldiers of peace.
Party workers, mainly youth, made a beeline to his meeting room to seek his "blessings."
Seated below portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, he spoke about the need to promote communal harmony and provide pure drinking water to the people.
Entrusted by Sonia to take charge of the anti-communalism campaign started after the sectarian strife in Gujarat last year, he has travelled extensively to spread harmony.
Before starting his eight-day campaign to Rajasthan from Rajghat, Mahatma Gandhi's memorial in Delhi, he spoke to Ehtashamuddin Khan about his mission for peace.
The basic philosophy of sadbhavna is the feeling of harmony and friendship among people. This is the need of the day that people are forgetting. There is so much of unrest in different communities. So we want to bring everybody together. This is what Gandhiji did, Jawaharlal Nehru did and all our great leaders did.
To revive that she (Sonia) thought of starting a movement and she thought of me to be the chairperson. I also feel we need to bring people together on one platform. People should have love for the country and good understanding among themselves, whether Dalit or high caste Hindus or Muslims. The feeling of oneness should be there. Only one community cannot build the nation.
Later we had a rally in Kanpur. It was a great success. We went to Madhya Pradesh twice. There was some problem in a gurdwara in Jalandhar. I went there. I met both communities to bring peace. It was also a success. I earlier went to Andaman and Nicobar islands.
When I walked from Bombay to Amritsar in 1987, it was at the height of militancy in Punjab. But when I went there, same people who were holding guns embraced me. They could have killed me. If I had approached them with a gun, it would be tit-for-tat. It is not that outside people are trying to destroy harmony here. They are our people.
We will go and tell the people that for God's sake forget all differences. Pressure from the people will change the minds of politicians. In a democracy, it is the people that matter. We should educate people even in small places whom to chose and whom not to chose.
Whatever they (the BJP) wanted, they had it in 1992-1993. It can't be repeated. People are fed up with this for the last 10 years. Even a person like me used to read each and every line in the newspaper on this issue earlier. But now I am not interested. It (the Ayodhya issue) has lost its relevance.
We get letters every day from people wanting to join our movement. But we are careful. We want people who have total commitment.
We should provide pure drinking water to the people, educate every child, give proper healthcare arrangements to the poorest of poor, provide jobs to the youth and respect women.
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