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How Modi propelled Advani's yatra
Sheela Bhatt in Baroda | April 08, 2006 12:29 IST
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi rarely speaks to the media and when he does, he insists that journalists ask him only about the development work of his government.
He refuses to speak on issues related to the 2002 riots or on the Supreme Court's negative remarks against him. After winning the 2002 Assembly elections, he has managed to maintain silence on all communally sensitive issues.
Unlike other chief ministers, he doesn't meet the media regularly; even his cabinet ministers don't brief the media about policies.
Modi decides what, how much and when the media should know about his government's policies.
All this ensured that the media is not in a position to know what he has done to patch up with the Muslim community after 2002. Many observers wondered whether he had softened up after fighting and winning the local elections on the Hindutva plank.
But on Friday, it looked like Modi has not diluted his hardline stand on Hindutva.
Participating in senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Kishenchand Advani's rath yatra, Modi showed that he was every bit as aggressive, brash and populist as he was in 2002, as he slammed rivals as hard as only he could.
Here is, verbatim, the speech he made in Vadodara April 7:
Under the leadership of Advaniji, this Bharat Suraksha yatra, after traveling for 35 days, will reach New Delhi.
Friends, these days in politics, those who have not even seen 50 cities of India have made careers as politicians just by making their presence felt in the media. In this country, such people don't find any difficulties in running their career. There are at least two-dozen such people in New Delhi. But Advaniji, at the age of 78, in temperatures as high as 40 to 45 degrees, will travel for 35 days. Friends, this penance is not for politics [rajkaran] but its for the nation [rashtrakaran].
I can understand politicians coming to you when elections are on. But now, there is no question of an election [in Gujarat]. We have absolutely finished them [the Congress]; they are driven out.
Advaniji is out on the street in this scorching heat because some politicians do have long distance vision. Advani is able to see into the future. The way the rulers of New Delhi are ruling the country; the way they are conspiring to vertically tear off the society; it will corrode the soul of India.
We want to educate people and warn the emperors of Delhi that the BJP is marching ahead with the Suraksha yatra.
Brothers and sisters, what is the conspiracy being planned by the government in New Delhi?
In Godhra 60 karsevaks were burnt to death. Then, we applied POTA against the culprits, and the government in New Delhi repealed POTA.
Why brother, why? For whose benefit was POTA repealed? Why are the conspirators of Godhra being protected? The story did not end there. They created a committee named Bannerjee Committee. On reading Bannerjee's report it seems like the Committee's name is Ben [sister] Raji [happy] committee.
(Crowd breaks into cheers).
This 'Benraji' Committee gave a report just to keep the sister [Congress chief Sonia Gandhi] happy.
I request the intellectuals of India to think that this day the Supreme Court is alerted if a witness changes stand or withdraws it. But when governments plot to protect criminals, then is there any crime bigger than that?
Friends, this kind of scheming is done by the government to create a conducive atmosphere to save criminals. This is why the ordinary citizen is left feeling insecure. How a variety of decisions are being taken these days! Recently the Sachchar committee came to meet me. This Committee has been formed to look into the living conditions of Muslims in India. Never heard of such committees... I have heard of commissions which include all kind of people.
For the first time, a commission has been formed exclusively for the Muslims.
They came too meet me. They asked me whether the Muslims get a fair deal in your state, and blah…blah...
I said, look brother, in my state Muslims alone get nothing.
(The crowd is in raptures)
[After a pause] I also told them, I have nothing to offer to Hindus alone. Whatever is with me is for the five-crore Gujaratis.
I don't discriminate nor do I approve of such discrimination, I said.
They were shocked. They asked me something must be there for the Muslims, right? I asked [the members of Sachchar committee], tell me what figures you want from me? They asked me, "How much do you spend on Muslims?"
So, I said, okay, let us calculate.
Now, see, the Sabarmati River gets water from the Narmada. How do I calculate how much water the Muslims drink and how much the Hindus consume? Let me tell you, I told these things on their faces without mincing words.
Then, I asked them whether they wanted me to calculate how much the Muslim prisoners of Sabarmati Jail eat and how much the Hindu prisoners eat?
We have a home department. Do you want me to calculate the money spent on Muslim gangsters and Hindu gangsters? I clearly told the Sachchar Committee that I will not allow them to sow the seeds of division in the land of Gujarat. Do whatever you can, I will not give you any such information, I told them. After they left my office, one of the members of committee said that this is one chief minister who never compromises.
Should we not think about the country? About our society? Or should we divide the country by forming such committees? Look at their audacity! To harm the country, they (government in Centre) have asked for statistics of Muslims in the Indian Army. I salute the chiefs of all the three defence services who refused to divulge such information like Gujarat state.
They said that in our world there are no Hindus, there are no Muslims, we are all residents of Hindustan. We don't have such divisions.
Each and every step of the central government worries us. Recently, elections were held in Assam. When I went there, our workers insisted that I speak on Bangladeshi infiltrators.
I asked them what the reasons behind their woes were. Assam and Bangladesh are neighbours. I said our (Gujarat's) neighbour is Pakistan. I said Bangladesh is harassing you because your state government is spineless. Here, our neighbour Pakistan is having sleepless nights.
Why should we have sleepless nights? The central government's policy of minority appeasement is creating insecurity in the nation.
I will now end my speech and request Advaniji to give the message about the security of India to all of us.