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BJP pitch for minority mind

Raipur, July 20: Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today supported the Prime Minister on a resolution of the Ayodhya dispute through talks.

Addressing the concluding session of the BJP national executive, Advani was quoted in a BJP release as saying: “Several Muslim organisations and individuals are now talking of a resolution of the Ayodhya issue. It is for this reason the issue has become unfrozen. A settlement by a dialogue is the best option. A settlement will defuse tension.”

Advani, who felt as discomfited as Atal Bihari Vajpayee by the VHP’s stridency on not just Ayodhya but also Kashi and Mathura, called upon his party to reach out to minorities.

Party sources quoted Advani as saying that after 9/11, the world saw a polarisation of Muslims versus the others. “Our democracy has many strong points. It assures space for all. It is for this reason that not one Indian has been found involved in al Qaida,” the release quoted him as saying.

Since India has the second largest Muslim population in the world and “ordinary Muslims” are not terrorists, the sources said, Advani emphasised that there is all the more reason they should be integrated into the mainstream and the BJP should shed its “anti-minority” image.

His view found mention in the party’s 25-point Mission 2004 Action Plan for the Lok Sabha polls, in which the BJP decided to reach out to minorities explaining to them the politics of “pseudo-secular parties”.

Correcting the impression of Muslims being supporters of terrorists, as the Sangh endlessly emphasises, Advani pointed out that a number of Islamic countries were distancing themselves from terrorism.

The BJP sources said Advani was persisting with his efforts to work on “influential” Muslim leaders who had goodwill in the community to see what sort of a solution they sought. One of the leaders he has reportedly contacted through an emissary is filmstar Dilip Kumar. A Rajya Sabha MP of the Congress, Dilip Kumar is held in high esteem by Mumbai Muslims for his work during the communal violence of 1993.

At the national executive and at a rally later, which he addressed in Vajpayee’s absence, Advani singled out “suraaj” (good governance) as the main plank for the coming elections, where, it was clear, Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin will occupy a large space.

“Naturally, the qualities of the leaders, their experience and the origin will be debated (in the poll campaign),” said Pramod Mahajan.

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