Tuesday 24 December 2002
Last Update 24 December 2002 12:00 am
NEW DELHI, 24 December 2002 — India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) yesterday said that it wouldn’t apologize for its Hindu agenda and discussed ways to repeat its recent poll victory in the western state of Gujarat.
“There is no need to be apologetic about the party’s ideology of cultural nationalism... If anybody asks us whether we would repeat the Gujarat experience elsewhere, our answer should be, yes,” said. BJP President M. Venakiah Naidu.
Naidu said the party’s win in the riot-hit western state of Gujarat marked a resurgence that would spur victories in many of the nine state elections due next year and the national elections due by 2004. “I would like to make an appeal to those who speak in the name of Hindutva (Hinduness) but whose pronouncements sometimes sound as if they are only reacting to the extremism and intolerance..across the border,” Naidu said referring to an anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan campaign by sister groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). “The BJP is firm in its belief that Hindutva and extremism cannot go together. Hindutva and intolerance cannot go together,” he said.
Gujarat is the BJP’s first major state election victory since it came to power at the head of a national coalition in 1999 and followed a string of losses in state elections this year.
While the party has toned down its Hindu rhetoric after the poll victory, some hard-line affiliates such as the VHP have vowed to step up their aggressive campaign that pits the country’s majority Hindus against the minority Muslims.
The two-day national executive meeting is expected to discuss the Gujarat poll and plan its future election strategy. “From one victory it is time to march toward many victories,” Naidu said. “This parv (celebration) will see our party’s victory in many states... in 2003 and will be crowned by the BJP winning a bigger mandate in the 2004 parliamentary elections.” (Agencies)