July 14, 2006

Modi Heads To Mumbai To Protect Hindus

The BJP will be sending its Hindutva face, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, to Mumbai to participate in a two-day nationwide campaign against terrorism. Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani will tour Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh while party chief Rajnath Singh will be in Nagpur for the campaign. The two-day campaign will be on July 15-16. The BJP, which has stepped up attack against the Centre for being “soft” on terrorism, has decided that Mr Modi, with his hardcore Hindutva image, would be the “best bet” to consolidate its Hindutva vote bank in Maharashtra.Incidentally, the decision to despatch Mr Modi was taken in consultation with the Shiv Sena. The RSS also indicated that the Maharashtra was “ripe” for the “use of leaders like Mr Modi”, a senior party functionary said. The functionary also talked of Mr Modi’s “huge fan following” In Mumbai. He recalled that after the Gujarat riots, when Mr Modi addressed a rally at Mumbai, the “turnout was mammoth”.

Only 24 hours ago, Mr Advani tried to toe a soft line by saying that this was “not the time to criticise” the Centre. However, Mr Advani stood somewhat isolated as the BJP adopted a resolution asking the Centre to either “govern or get out”. The party has now decided to play its “hardcore Hindutva card” in Maharashtra. Both the BJP and Shiv Sena were voted out from Maharashtra during the Assembly elections in 2000.

Over the past few months, the BJP, under Mr Rajnath Singh, has been trying to get back to the Hindutva bandwagon, which was virtually abandoned by Mr Advani. He had to quit his post as party president after he “crossed the Lakshman rekha by calling Jinnah secular”, the BJP functionary recalled. The BJP, which has been holding the organisation Students’ Islamic Movement of India (Simi) responsible for the terrorist activities in the country, described Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav’s reported move to set free jailed Simi activists an “electoral stunt”.

Stepping up pressure on the government, BJP spokesman Prakash Javdekar demanded “hot pursuit” of terrorists in the wake of Tuesday’s train bombings in Mumbai. He defined “hot pursuit” as a “full-scale war” against terrorism. However, Mr Javdekar was vague when asked about the NDA government’s decision to release terrorist Masood Azhar following the Kandahar hijack.

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