| Security forces take up position on the temple grounds after the attack. (AFP)
New Delhi, Sept. 24: Keen to ensure that more inflammatory statements do not add fuel to the fire in Gujarat, BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu asked chief minister Narendra Modi this evening not to lend a communal colour to the attack on the Swaminarayan temple and to maintain peace and harmony in the state.
Sources said that soon after news of the raid reached here, Naidu met deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani. Naidu then spoke to Modi over phone and told him to make sure that communal harmony and peace are not disturbed in the charged atmosphere.
After Naidu’s call, Modi said in Ahmedabad the government has taken all necessary steps to combat the “dastardly” act and appealed to the people to maintain peace.
“Having failed in Kashmir, it was a handiwork of the same elements as part of their deep conspiracy to disturb peace in Gujarat,” Modi said. The chief minister appealed to the people to have faith in the strength of the government and cooperate with it in handling the situation.
Naidu’s call to Modi reflected an undercurrent of concern in the BJP that sooner or later a part of the blame will be pinned on the inflammatory speeches made by the chief minister during the Gaurav Yatra.
The yatra’s third phase, which got over yesterday, saw Modi again taunting minorities on the population policy.
The infamous ‘hum paanch, hamare pachchis’ speech had spread considerable disquiet among several national leaders of the BJP, though a section of state party leaders felt that it would help consolidate the perceived polarisation of voters.
The most vocal comment against Modi’s speeches came today from an unlikely source. A Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader said his organisation does not approve of the style of Modi’s speeches. “Content is all right, but the manner should have been more gentle,” VHP central secretary and spokesman Veereshwar Dwivedi said in Delhi.
Sources said the terrorist attack, though unfortunate, would strengthen India’s case against Pakistan. Conversely, BJP strategists said, a communal blacklash would not be in the interest of the nation when the government is beginning to succeed in its Kashmir policy.
In Delhi, BJP general secretary and spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, too, attributed the incident to Pakistan’s desperation.
“The people behind the Godhra incident are behind this attack as well. The need of the hour is for the people of Gujarat and the rest of the country to understand Pakistan’s conspiracy and defeat its designs to disrupt communal harmony. Peace should be maintained at all costs and any type of reaction will only strengthen them,” Naqvi said.
The party described the attack as a “frustrated reaction” of Pakistan following the successful initial phases of polling for the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.
Frustrated by the rejection of militancy and triumph of democracy in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan has now chosen to target Gujarat and whip up communal passions,” Naqvi said.
The successful conduct of the second phase of polls in Jammu and Kashmir is a setback to Pakistan, which has been exposed before the world, he said. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s statements at the UN have only served to provide “oxygen” to the terrorists, he added.
Hitting out at Pakistan, Naqvi had said earlier in the day that “unless the world community does not completely root out al Qaida and terrorism from Pakistan, the global war on terrorism can never succeed. For this, it is imperative to dismantle the entire structure of Pakistan’s state-sponsored terrorism as soon as possible”.