Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

BJP is against 'minorityism', not minorities

Business Standard / New Delhi July 20, 2008, 0:26 IST

I totally disbelieve in any kind of discrimination on the basis of religion. Since most of the people gathered here are Muslims, let me be more specific. I greatly value the contribution of Indian Muslims to the evolution of India's culture, to India's fight for freedom from colonial rule, and, in the post-1947 era, to the building of a strong and prosperous India.

Just because a section of the Muslim leadership mistakenly, and for its own vested interests, pursued the flawed policy of a "Two Nation" theory, and brought about the tragic division of India, there is no justification to view Indian Muslims today through the prism of what happened 60 years ago.

Let me emphasise one more point. The concept of "majority" and "minority" should not be stretched too far. Some political parties in India, purely for votebank considerations, want Muslims to remain forever in the "minority mindset". Their politics of "minorityism" is neither helping the nation's development nor the development of minorities themselves.

It is for this reason that I say that the BJP is for "anti-minorityism", but is not anti-minorities.

I appeal to my Muslim brothers and sisters not to fall prey to this politics of "minorityism". Do not remain pawns in the selfish politics of the Congress and other pseudo-secular parties. Support the BJP and the NDA, and together we shall open a new chapter in the politics of genuine secularism and genuine empowerment of all the underprivileged people belonging to both majority and minority communities.

Let me make it clear that the BJP is not merely interested in the votes of our Muslim brothers and sisters. We are even more interested in their welfare, in their all-round development, and in their security.

Irrespective of what percentage of Muslims votes for the BJP and the NDA, our government, if voted into office by the people of India, will work for the welfare, development and security of Muslims with the same commitment as we shall show in respect of non-Muslims. This is my solemn assurance.

Friends, when we talk of welfare, development and security, it becomes our moral duty to care for those who are most deprived of these. And, this is why we have to care more for women, because women in all communities are generally lagging behind men.

In the case of Muslim women, their deprivation in education, healthcare, employment, and other parameters of development are even more pronounced.

Many studies have shown that Muslim women are among the poorest, educationally most disenfranchised, economically most vulnerable, and politically the most under-represented group in the country.

Who is responsible for this? There may be many factors, but as far as the responsibility of the government is concerned, shouldn't the Congress accept the most blame because it has ruled for the longest period, both at the Centre and in many states, after Independence?

Hence, my question is: A party that has done so little for poor Muslims, and a party that has done even less for Muslim women, what right does it have to seek Muslim support?

When price-rise drills holes in family budgets, it does not discriminate between Hindu and Muslim families.

Hence, my next question is: A government that has snatched away the livelihood of ordinary Muslim and non-Muslim families, what right does it have to continue in office?

But let us not bother too much about the Congress. Its rule – or rather, misrule – will soon become history. There will be no Congress-led government after the next parliamentary elections, whenever they are held. No astrologer is required to predict this.

(BJP leader LK Advani at a function of the BJP Minorities Wing, 13 July, 2008)

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