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BJP is a clean, secular party, says ally George - The Asian Age

Venkatesh Kesari ()
20 August 1997

Title: BJP is a clean, secular party, says ally George
Author: Venkatesh Kesari
Publication: The Asian Age
Date: August 20, 1997

Firebrand Socialist leader and the chief of the Samata Party George
Fernandes has described the BJP as a secular party, constitutionally as
well as politically, and said the present alliance of his party with the
BJP will continue in Bihar and other states.

Speaking to The Asian Age, Mr Fernandes said: "Let us have an open debate
on who is secular and who is non-secular. If one goes by the Constitution
of India, BJP is a secular party."

Mr Fernandes said a BJP-led government will come to power at the Centre in
the next elections and called the BJP a "dependable ally."

The Samata Party leader said the BJP was a clean party and the charges of
corruption against its leadership were meaningless. "So, you have a gang
of all these corrupt people (anti-BJP forces in Bihar) making allegations."

Mr Fernandes admitted that the demolition of the Babri Masjid should not
have taken place. But he added that the BJP leaders themselves said as much
and more when the mosque was destroyed. "If demolition makes the BJP a
communal party, a non-secular party then the demolition of the Golden
Temple at Amritsar makes the Congress worse as it used the state apparatus
to blow it up," he said. Mr Fernandes insisted that he was not trying to
score a point but if the Congress was not defined as being non-secular,
then the "same rule should apply to the BJP."

The Samata party leader was categorical that his alliance with the BJP will
continue. "We came together to fight against Laloo Prasad Yaday, the
corruption, the politics of violence and criminalisation. All parties
aligned with him but me succeeded in sending him to jail. Had we not come
together in the 1996 Lok Sabha elections Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav would have
been the prime minister Of India. We have saved the people and the
country," he said. On economic policies, Mr Fernandes criticised the role
of the Left and the Congress saying that they had found themselves to be
made for each other. The Samata Party, he said, has been consistingly
pressing for Swadeshi. He said there was no question of merging the Samata
party with the BJP as there were some differences on economic issues with a
section of the BJP being dictated by the US on this subject. "The Samata
and the BJP are united in their fight against corruption. The Congress is
the epitome of corruption. Laloo Prasad Yaday-led Janata Dal has been
competing to displace it from its position as the most corrupt party," he

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