BJP’s PM nominee says he doesn’t believe in dividing voters on religious lines
OUR POLITICAL BUREAU NEW DELHI
Narendra Modi, whose refusal to wear a skull cap some three years ago has become a talking point during this election campaign season, has pointedly refused to talk only to Muslims and solicit their votes, saying he did not believe in dividing voters on religious lines and was prepared to pay the price for his decision.
Asked if he had completed his efforts to reach out to the Muslim community and addressed its anxieties, he said: “I haven’t even started it. And I am not going to do it. It is not important for me. I am totally opposed to it… For the nation my mantra is 125 crore Indians. Hindu, Muslim, Christians… The country had enough of all these terminologies. The new terminologies will be youth, poor, farmer, village, city, education.” Modi, who is focusing his campaign on his record of presiding over high growth and strong governance during his time as Gujarat chief minister, also said it was important that political parties face the pressure of having to perform, which will make them do good work. A former member of his party’s intellectual right wing fountainhead, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Modi defended the organisation, noting that it had become a fashion to criticise the group.
“It has become a fashion in our country that whenever the Congress is going through a bad phase, people emerge to abuse the RSS… It is the biggest nongovernmental organisation. Its capabilities should be admired and used for the benefit of the people,” he said. Blaming the Congress for the deterioration in India’s federal structure, Modi said if he became the prime minister he would ensure a ‘familylike’ environment between the Centre and states. Modi also spoke in favour of privatisation of public industries, saying it should be done on a case by case basis. “We should give them the opportunity of turning themselves around based on professional advice,” he said, adding a BJP government would work to push through the GST.