16. 'How can any Muslim in this country say that he does not respect Ram?'
The Sunday Observer
New Delhi, November 19-25, 1995
16. ‘How can any Muslim in this country say that he does not respect Ram?’
(We reproduce some of the questions and answers in an interview given by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi in Bombay to two journalists from the weekly, Rajeev D. Pai and Firdaus Ashraf, on 13 November 1995.)
Why has the BJP now relegated the temple issue to the backburner?
It’s there. It’s in our manifesto.
Yes, but not so prominent as Kashmir.
You see, every problem is related to the other. Sometimes some problem is at the fore, sometimes some (other). Sometimes you are dining, sometimes you are bathing. Now you say that why are you bathing now and why are you not eating? But I am happy that you are becoming Ram bhakts, and you remember the temple. It’s a good sign.
What is the party’s stand on Varanasi and Mathura?
We have said they are not on our agenda.
At the moment?
No, we have said they are not on our agenda. We are the BJP today - after 30 years, when I am no more, I don’t know what will this country do. How can one predict so long? - we are at the helm of affairs, we are saying, we have said it very clearly, that it is not on our agenda.
Will the Ram temple be built immediately if you come to power?
We have our own strategy for it. We have always said we will build it through a legal process. There has been an acquisition (of the land) and cases are pending in the Supreme Court. We have to make a statute for it.
But the matter was in court even before December 6, 1992.
We had always said we will pass a law. The BJP resolution has always been either through mutual consent or by legislation, but not through litigation.
Will the legislation cover other disputed shrines?
We have said legislation for Ram temple.
And how do you see the Muslims reacting to this?
Muslims in India, they don’t worship Ram as a god, but they consider him their hero. How can any Muslim in this country say Ram does not belong to this country or that he does not respect Ram? Even Iqbal said he is Imam-i-Hind.
Every Indian shares the heritage of Shri Ram. It is one of the monumental blunders of Indian political leaders to tell Indian Muslims that they have no relation with Ram and they have relations with Babar.1
But it was the BJP which called them Babar ki aulad
We never say that. We always say, I as president of the party have said it categorically, and I repeat it, that every Indian shares the heritage of (the country), right from the Vedas down to today. Muslims are part and parcel of the great Indian heritage. I do not consider them as minorities. The biggest blunder which has been committed by politicians, and which Muslims have accepted, is that they are minorities.
How will you erase this perception?
By changing so many things, the education system Pakistan celebrates Panini’s anniversary. But they don’t speak Sanskrit. Still they share the heritage of Panini.
Why do we have a problem here then?
Because Indian politicians, particularly Congressmen, have told them that this does not belong to you. We will tell them that this belongs as much to you as to anybody else.
On October 12,1 addressed a conference of our minority cell, in Aligarh, right on the doorstep of Aligarh University. I said here is an institution which spread this concept, that Muslims are a different nation. I am here again to say that they are not. They are part and parcel of this great nation, they are Mohammediya Hindus.2
But then why are Muslims suspicious of the BJP? They still prefer the Samajwadi Party
They will never prefer it. I tell you. Large numbers of Muslims have realised that a serious mistake has been committed by their leaders.
So what percentage of Muslim votes do you expect this time?
It’s not a question of what percentage of votes I expect. Anybody can join any party. But I am more interested in (making) Muslims consider themselves part and parcel of this great national heritage, that they do not consider themselves minorities; they can vote for any party. Even after that they may not vote for me. So what? Many people don’t vote for me. But they are part and parcel of this country.
Dr. Joshi is blaming poor politicians instead of blaming the real culprit - Islam - which does not permit Muslims to respect anything from the pre-Islamic period of history in any country. ↩
This attempt to paste on Muslims a label which Islam does not permit them to accept and which Muslims have always rejected with utter contempt, is not only foolish but also betrays a fascist attitude. In any case, Joshi should have known that Lala Har Dayal who had coined the phrase ‘Mohammedi Hindus’ for Muslims in India, had admitted later on that it was ‘my pious folly’ to say so. Muslims in India have always looked down with contempt on this sort of Hindu semantics. It is high time for our Joshis to stop fooling themselves with what they consider to be clever attempts at fooling others. ↩