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Mulayam offers Bharat over India

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TAPAS CHAKRABORTY Lucknow Published 09.04.04, 12:00 AM
Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh with Mulayam Singh Yadav at the party office in Lucknow on Friday. (PTI)

Lucknow, April 9: Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party has vowed to change the name of the country to Bharat if voted to power and said it would throw open for worship religious places under the Archaeological Survey of India.

In its manifesto released today, the Samajwadi pointed out what it claimed was “a serious flaw” in the Indian Constitution and promised speedy rectification once the party comes to power at the Centre.

“We demand that to protect the dignity and self-esteem of the country, India should become Bharat. Our country has long been known as Bharat. But during the 200 years rule of British raj, the name was altered and made India,” the party manifesto said. “God knows how the Constitution-makers mentioned India first and kept repeating it. It was only later that it said, ‘India that is Bharat’.”

Analysts said the Samajwadi’s stress on the so-called error in the Constitution that it wants to rectify was an attempt to embarrass state rival Bahujan Samajwadi Party as its icon B.R. Ambedkar is known as the father of the Constitution.

The 16-page manifesto, released by Mulayam Singh, vowed to throw open “old religious places” of all communities under the ASI. “People are not allowed to offer worship or prayers there. (The) SP proposes to open these places of worship to the members of respective communities,” the document said.

Mulayam Singh, who believes his party would play a crucial role at the Centre by winning 60 seats from Uttar Pradesh, slammed rival parties for ignoring the basic needs of the backward sections. “Unlike other parties which churn out a political epic in manifestos, we are focused on the country’s marginal people and development. We believe, without their development, no true development can take place.”

In an attempt to woo Muslims, at least 15 of the 19 promises made under the head “Social Change” are aimed at the community. They include provisions for reservation in jobs in medical and technical institutions, promotion of Urdu, schemes to remove illiteracy and reconstitution of the Shanti Suraksha Bal, a crack force to deal with communal violence.

The party also talked about “non-interference” in Muslim personal laws, ensuring safety of all religious places and a “total revision of all textbooks in which a deliberate tampering of pro-BJP historians led to distortions in historical facts about Muslims”.

However, the party appears to have soft-pedalled on the Ram temple issue. “On Ayodhya there is no other solution except that emanating from the judiciary. We plan to stick to the court order,” Mulayam Singh said.

He dodged queries on why the government failed to issue a fresh notification to go on appeal and restart the criminal proceedings against deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani for his alleged role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

The Samajwadi chief said he was not in favour of over-stressing Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin. “A woman is not judged by how and where she was born but what she is proposing to do for the country,” he said.

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