12. Advani allays minorities fears
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi, 4 June 1995
12. Advani allays minorities fears
NEW DELHI, June 3 - In his first wide-ranging television interview on the attitude and policies of the BJP if it were to form a government after the next elections, Mr. L.K. Advani has said that it will be his responsibility to allay the fears of the minorities.1 Predicting better relations with Pakistan, the BJP President also promised a tougher Kashmir policy ‘without kid gloves’. Mr. Advani promised to abrogate Article 370 ‘as swiftly as rapidly as possible’ and said his government would revoke any political concession made to Kashmir along the lines of Prime Minister Rao’s recent statement in the Lok Sabha. But the BJP president went out of his way to remove doubts created by his senior party members regarding the BJP’s attitude to foreign investment.
In an interview to Eyewitness, a Doordarshan current affairs programme, to be broadcast on Sunday June 4 at 10.00 p.m. on the Metro Channel, Mr. Advani was asked whether a future BJP government would seek to allay the fears of the minorities. He replied:
‘Certainly it is my responsibility and it is the responsibility of the party and more specifically of the heads of government where we are ruling today. All BJP governments have issued instructions to their administration etc. to ensure that every citizen living in that State is treated equal with justice’.
Asked if he would be prepared to extend his statement that the mosques in Varanasi and Mathura were not on the BJP’s agenda into a guarantee that the BJP would respect their present status for all time to come, Mr. Advani declined to do so.
‘You are suggesting something which I have to discuss with my party colleagues. You are suggesting something which I cannot do. I need not do it. I don’t want to say anything about the party and what it might do tomorrow and what it might not do. Every party has a right to review all situations’.
Again, when asked if he would be prepared to put some distance between the BJP party and associations like the VHP and Bajrang Dal as a way of gaining the confidence of the minorities, Mr. Advani strenuously declined: ‘Certainly not. I see not reason to do that. Absolutely no reason’.
Finally, when told that in the eyes of the minorities his party’s attitude to illegal Muslim immigrants suggested not so much a concern with illegal immigrants as with the fact that they are Muslim, Mr. Advani said: ‘I am against illegal immigrants but I also realise that India in the circumstances in which it accepted partition has a responsibility towards Hindus who were left behind in Pakistan and who subsequently are a part of Bangladesh. Illegal immigration is wrong but I do draw a distinction between illegal immigration and people who are forced to flee a country as refugees because of partition. Muslims are not refugees. They may be coming here for economic reasons which no country in the world allows, not even America which is very prosperous’.
When pointed out that his qualifications had effectively undermined his initial assurance to the minorities and that now it would seem that under the surface he was a lot less re-assuring Mr. Advani accepted the charge and said:
‘This is because the kind of reassurance you want would be possible only if you would expect me to disown whatever I have been saying or whatever really makes me distinct from the other parties and at least for the BJP, for the sake of minority votes which would come about after the kind of reassurance you think I should give, it is not going to compromise with its basic stands’.
So when asked if this meant he really was the ‘Rakshas’ some people took him to be, Mr. Advani replied: ‘If you believe that the BJP is Rakshas, then L.K. Advani has contributed most to making BJP what it is’.
Mr. Advani made clear that its policy would be ‘tough and consistent and without ambivalence’, on Kashmir.
‘My attitude is that today in Jammu and Kashmir if we are waging a proxy war let us wage a proxy war. It cannot be fought with kid gloves. If there are militants who are acting as foreign mercenaries on behalf of Pakistan you cannot be dealing with them and talking of making concessions to them and having a political settlement with them. I don’t understand this.
‘Just as in Punjab militancy came to an end not by holding elections but by giving some measure of freedom to the security forces headed by K.P.S. Gill and then holding elections, I envisage that there should be no compromise with militancy and terrorism. Our policy will be not merely tougher but also more consistent. You cannot be ambivalent on these issues’.
‘Minority fears’ in India are imaginary and a concoction of the secularist cult. What needs allaying is the majority fear that it will no longer be tormented by Islamic gangsterism. ↩