Alleging that for the Congress secularism is a “vote-hijacking machine”, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Sunday said the BJP is the most secular party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the “icon of our constitutional commitment to secularism”.
The Minority Affairs Minister also claimed that Muslims’ “strong support” for Prime Minister Modi is visible in the assembly elections and slowly they are aligning with the BJP.
In an interview with PTI, Mr Naqvi said the Congress’ alliance with Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front in Assam, Indian Secular Front in West Bengal and the Indian Union Muslim League in Kerala has “exposed” the party’s “secular tag on communal bag” policy.
“For the Congress, secularism is a vote-hijacking machine, while for us it is a commitment to inclusive development. Congress is, therefore, now getting isolated as it neither has anything to say nor any achievement to show,” Mr Naqvi alleged.
Asserting that there can be no party more secular than the BJP, Mr Naqvi said, “Prime Minister Modi is the icon of our constitutional commitment to secularism.”
Mr Naqvi said Narendra Modi is a PM who after coming to power bowed before the Constitution ahead of taking oath and said that those who voted for us and those who did not are equal for us.
There cannot be a better example of inclusive mentality and secular thinking, Mr Naqvi added.
He said secularism for the BJP and the Modi government is a constitutional mission and resolve, while for “pseudo secularists”, it is a means to hijack votes.
Claiming that the BJP would form the government in West Bengal, return to power in Assam and come up with a strong performance in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Mr Naqvi said that sensing defeat, the Opposition parties have already started making excuses by questioning EVMs and making “attacks” on the Election Commission.
“They are writing letters for unity, they have tried that earlier also to align but failed miserably,” he said in an obvious reference to TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee’s letter to non-BJP leaders in which she said the time has come for a “united and effective” struggle against the BJP’s alleged attacks on democracy and the Constitution.
Asked about Badruddin Ajmal’s allegation that the BJP is trying to polarise voters by highlighting his beard and skull cap, Mr Naqvi said in this country nobody needs to fear “topi or tilak”.
This country is of inclusive thought and its DNA is one of taking every section of the society along, he asserted.
By saying all this they want to impress their voters and get sympathy, he added.
“These days it is a trend to seek sympathy, somebody will get their leg broken, somebody will say my ”dadhi” (beard), ”topi” (cap) is getting affected, somebody will start chanting mantras, someone will wear a topi indoors while sport a tilak outside, this is nothing but ”electoral buffoonery”,” Mr Naqvi said.
Asked about the BJP raising the issue of illegal immigrants in the Assam polls, the minister said the issue was not a communal one but a national one.
The illegal immigrants are the most harmful to the Muslims of that state as they usurp their rights, he argued.
Mr Naqvi also dismissed suggestions that the BJP was on the back foot on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Assam, saying “we are not on the back foot, our government worked for five years there and we are talking about the work we have done for the people”.
“Ajmal sahab used to think of himself as a kingmaker and used to say he has the key to power, now he is worried that he has lost that key,” Mr Naqvi said.
On the BJP giving some tickets to Muslim candidates in the Assembly polls, he said Muslims have always been given tickets by the BJP, but the basis was always winnability.
“We are a political party and take everyone along, we don’t believe in leaving out any section of the society,” he said.
Elections in Assam are being conducted in three phases on March 27, April 1 and April 6, while polling in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will take place in a single phase on April 6.
Elections for the West Bengal assembly are being held in eight phases which began with polling for 30 seats on March 27. Counting for all the seats will be held on May 2.