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'Under the BJP India will not become regressive'

Last updated on: April 23, 2014 15:22 IST

'If people respect our culture and interests, why should anyone become more regressive?'

'Education will not be saffronised. Just the correct picture will be portrayed and facts not distorted.'

Dr Dinanath Batra, who successfully litigated to have Penguin withdraw copies of Wendy Doniger's book on Hinduism, tells Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa what India will be like if the BJP under Narendra Modi forms the next government.

Dr Dinanath Batra, bottom, left, founder of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, was in the news after his protests and a court case forced the publisher Penguin India to take off the shelves Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History.

His case and win against Penguin sent shockwaves through liberal India, leading to worries that if the Bharatiya Janata Party were to form the next government, as many opinion polls suggest, right-wing forces will gain the upper hand, pushing the country backwards.

Dr Batra tells Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa that India will not turn into a Hindu version of Pakistan.

Will Hindus become more muscular with their demands if the BJP were to come to power in this election?

See, there should be equality and that is what I believe in. According to me, it is the appeasement which affects the nation. I would not say the Hindus will become more muscular.

At any cost, no community should be angered. All communities should be looked as one.

What according to me should be the mantra is appeasement to none and benefits to all.

Will the minorities continue to be equal citizens if Narendra Modi and the BJP win power? Will India remain secular?

Yes, why not? As I pointed out, there should be equality. I don't believe in the concept of appeasing one particular community. Minorities should not looked at with a view to appeasing them. That is not correct.

The rights should be given to all and appeasement to none.

How will women's rights be handled then? Will outfits like the Sri Ram Sene become more vocal, more active?

Once again, equality for women in a society is a must. Will the Ram Sena become more powerful or active under the BJP? No, I do not think so.

Let me also point out to you that we have no connection with the Ram Sena in any way.

Fundamentalism in any community is not desirable.

Will the country abandon the secular path, and become like a Hindu version of, say, Pakistan, as critics of the BJP fear?

The fears of the critics are not right. India is not that sort of a country and we believe in equality to all. However, the concept of equality ought not to be misunderstood.

I am saying it has been misunderstood and is often looked at as appeasement. This would cause a great divide and many will be hurt and upset.

I am very sure the country will not go the Pakistan way.

How will India's neighbours be handled by the BJP government?

Neighbours will be handled by the BJP in the right manner. We will seek to protect ourselves first and ensure that there are tougher laws and security to ensure that.

Basically, let us not only talk about our neighbours. Any country which does not appreciate or respect India, we will be hard towards.

A hard approach is necessary against our neighbours and also other countries who do not respect our security.

What will be the BJP government's approach to cross-border terror?

The approach I am guessing will be a tough one and the BJP has been speaking about it regularly.

As I said, the approach towards any country who threaten our security will be handled with an iron fist.

If we stop being soft and mean business -- especially on cross border issues -- then terror attacks too would go down considerably. Every case should be dealt with firmly and fairly. This is what will solve the problem.

Will India abandon the modern world, and become regressive -- as critics say it will under the BJP?

No, that is not going to happen. Under the BJP, the country is not going to become more regressive.

Yes, our interests should be protected and our culture should not be insulted. If people respect our culture and interests, why should anyone become more regressive?

How will education be handled? Will it be 'saffronised'?

The current education system is very bad. The education system needs a complete change. Education should be given to everyone, including parents.

There is an alternate system of education which is needed. Basically, what I would like to see is an all-embracing education system.

Today I feel that education is being divided and there is a need to understand that education is an integral part of our system.

If everything is portrayed correctly and facts are not distorted, then why should there be any problem?

As to the second part of your question, education will not be saffronised. Just the correct picture will be portrayed and facts not distorted.

What will be the approach to foreign brands, FDI etc?

I am hoping that the approach will be right. Just the other day I was in Keerthinagar (in Bengaluru) to buy some furniture. I saw a lot of China brands. They are cheap, but not durable.

I feel that local business should be encouraged. We should do what benefits us. There is talent in the country and should be utilised.

In fact, we should look to export more. The approach of the BJP on this issue should be: Think globally and act locally.

What is your overall vision for India under a likely BJP government?

The country needs to be strong on every front. We have a lot of great minds and their thoughts and services should be utilised to make this a great nation.

No country should ever think of threatening or destablising us.

Most importantly, we should all be more accepting in our approach in the larger interest of our great nation. There should be an integration of ancient and modern wisdom.

Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com in Bengaluru