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Musharraf, Congress speak in the same way: Modi

Musharraf, Congress speak in the same way: Modi

Author: Robin David
Publication: The Times of India
Date: September 16, 2002

Chief minister Narendra Modi picks up one target at a time. From J.M. Lyngdoh to Sonia Gandhi to Muslims, he came a long way to 'Miyan Musharraf' on Saturday, during the second leg of his gaurav yatra.

Mr Modi's tone was much mellowed as he spoke to a gathering of 7,000 people in this tiny village of Ahmedabad. The vitriolic attack on the minorities and the mention of the Congress' "Italian spectacles" were missing.

The advice given to him by minister Vijay Goel in the PMO's office and the BJP president Venkaiah Naidu seemed to have worked. But that did not stop him from letting loose a few verbal missiles at the Congress, which was more in his firing line this time than the ancestry of Sonia Gandhi. About the Pakistani President's statement on the Gujarat violence at the UN, Mr Modi said, "Miyan Musharraf has defamed Gujarat from the pedestal of peace."

"We will not accept this. What amazes me, however, is that there is no difference between the speech of Gen Musharraf and that of the Congress. Both speak in the same language. Even the drafting of speeches is the same." He maintained this tirade wherever he went on Saturday, constantly drawing parallels between Gen Musharraf, and the Congress. In fact, none of the BJP leaders used the Pakistani President's first name while referring to him, always calling him "Miyan".

He also added that Gen Musharraf should remember there were more Muslims in India than in Pakistan, who according to him, lived quite happily The mellowed down face could be seen from the way he tried to speak about the Hindu-Muslim unity "The war of Independence that started in 1857 saw both Hindus and Muslims fighting shoulder to shoulder to oust the foreigners. But between 1857 and 1947, the Congress ensured that the two communities did not see eye to eye on any issue."

If anything, the yatra became an exercise in wooing the Dalits into the BJP fold. That was one reason why he started the second leg from the predominantly Dalit village of Jhanjharka. At Barvada town, 300 Dalits who were with the Congress joined the BJP. The Congress taluka president, Kantibhai Mundva, confirmed that he and about 300 other Dalits had decided to shift over. "I took the decision after the Godhra incident," Mr Mundva told TNN, and added, "I believe that our interests are better served with the BJP."

However, before Mr Modi could speak, the speeches of the president of the central BJP scheduled caste cell, Ramapati Shastri, general secretary Anita Arya Union ministers Kashiram Rana, Satya narayan Jatia and Ashok Pradhan made the crowd restive.

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