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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2003 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

No agitation for construction of Ram Temple: BJP
By Andalib Akhter

New Delhi: Emboldened by the spectacular victory in three out of five states that went to the Assembly polls recently, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to have decided to change the party strategy at least till general elections are over. If the party leadership is to be believed the BJP will now emphasize on developmental issues rather than raking up communal and sectarian agendas.

Talking to The Milli Gazette after the results of Assembly polls, a senior BJP leader and the party’s parliamentary spokesperson Vijay Kumar Malhotra said the party fought the election on developmental issues and did not rake up Mandir-Masjid issue anywhere in the elections. He said it was wrong to brand BJP a communal or sectarian party. "We are equally concerned about the development and progress of the nation like others," he said.

Accusing the opposition parties for raking up the Ayodhya issue time and again he said, the so called secular parties were responsible for dividing people on religious issue. "Every year the opposition members in the parliament dig out the issue of demolition of disputed structure and get the parliament adjourned. You can understand who rakes up the issue of Ayodhya," asks Malhotra.

On the contentious issue of the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya, he said, the party will abide by the court order or it will wait for a negotiated settlement between the two communities. "We will not go for an agitation for the construction of Ram temple," he assured. 

Malhotra said the BJP is not averse to the development and progress of the minorities in the country. "In a democratic society everyone should get equal opportunity for growth and development," he stressed.

According to his assessment, in recent elections the BJP has got votes from all section of society including the Muslims. However, on the issue of the decreasing number of Muslims in the democratic institutions in the country, Malhotra finds himself at a loss as to how to convince the Muslims on this count.
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