New Delhi, 17 November 1996
23. Secularism is the very colour
of our blood: Vajpayee
JAIPUR: BJP’s imminent strategy is going to be crystal clear now. Days to come would give the BJP a secular-socialist colour. BJP’s top leadership at a Jaipur meeting decided that initiatives would have to be taken to bring the Muslim community close to it at all costs, that a movement would have to be launched to fight corruption at every level, that the poor’s welfare oriented economic policies would have to be forcefully advocated, that a movement would have to be launched against foreign companies, and that a fight to the finish would have to be started against the forces retarding BJP’s march to power.
This meeting at Jaipur seems to be a milestone in reshaping BJP’s image. BJP leadership has realised that with the majority community being with it, only a certain stage of the destination could be reached; to go ahead of it BJP needs the help of backward classes and particularly the minorities’ support. BJP is content with its access to the OBCS, but the apathy of the Muslim community is still pinching it. That is why Atal Behari Vajpayee announced a well calculated plan of action, at the Tripolia Chowk (Jaipur) public meeting. He requested ‘our Muslim brethren’ to see BJP’s conduct, work and behaviour and then reconsider their attitude to it. In this public meeting, Vajpayee assured the minority community: “Secularism is the very colour of our blood, it is the very smile on our lips.”
Vajpayee said, “We look at our Muslim brethren not as voters but as human beings. Being from a different faith, has no meaning, what is needed is patriotism. Those who fought for Pakistan, are living a refugee’s life there in Pakistan itself. It is very difficult for the Shias to survive in Pakistan. The religious freedom that is there in India, is to be found nowhere else. Therefore, Muslim brethren, come, let’s enhance the glory of our country together.”
Lal Krishna Advani reiterated the same entreaty on this occasion. He said, “The political parties with whom you are now, will be nowhere after some time. BJP has promised that it will give security and justice to all and there shall be no discrimination on account of religion. We shall restore harmony in the society and honesty in administration, we shall emphasise swadeshi in the economic field and guard our borders.”
BJP which has so far been considered anti-Muslim, has been trying to adorn its image with the plumage of secularism (or panth-nirpekshatã as it itself calls it). It knows that in order to make a dent into other political parties, only this nail has been missing from its tool-box. Now on, that will not continue. The socialist sword has been wielded by non-BJP parties so far. Now the BJP wants to wield the same to serve its own purpose. It has been shedding its old garb of being pro-American capitalism.
Vajpayee proclaimed on the occasion, “Not to speak of communism, our communists
are not mentioning even socialism any more. But we want to tell you that
the poor will be crushed by the market economy we are creating in our country.
Economic policies of the last five years have ruined our land. We are passing
through such a crucial phase of economic slump that the salaried people
will find themselves in great misery within a few months. Market is a merciless
machine. Foreign companies are concerned with their profits only.
They are not coming here to help us.”