On the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for religious harmony during a poll rally in Bihar, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari spoke out against those who have made “unfortunate remarks” on the Dadri lynching. The former BJP chief also criticised the protests in Mumbai against a concert by Pakistani Ghazal singer Ghulam Ali.
Expressing disapproval at the inflammatory remarks made over the last week on the Dadri killing, including by BJP leaders, Gadkari said: “Everyone who wears saffron is not a BJP leader…Sometimes, the correct thing for BJP would be silence.”
The BJP-led government does not “discriminate (against) anyone in the name of religion, caste or language” but wants “development of all”, Gadkari said during an interaction with mediapersons at the Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC).
The BJP leadership had earlier asked its leaders to refrain from making provocative statements that would escalate communal tensions following the killing of 50-year-old Mohammed Akhlaq in Bisara village over rumours of cow slaughter.
Gadkari, however, was quick to point out that there was no shortage of such leaders in other parties too. “If [Congress leader] Digvijaya Singh says something, it does not mean that Sonia Gandhi holds that view. The BJP president did not make any such statements. The party’s and the RSS’s ideology is not anti-minority. It is unfortunate that communal tensions are taking place in the country. We are not in support of those remarks made by some,” he said.
On the cancellation of a Ghulam Ali concert in Mumbai after ally Shiv Sena threatened protests, Gadkari said: “There is anguish among people against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. But opposition should be to the Pakistan government and not to art.”
Gadkari said he was also a fan of Ali. “I listen to his and Jagjit Singh’s music daily when I do my morning exercise. This (opposition to Pakistan) should not be dragged to the level of artists. Opposition of Pakistan is right, but not of Ghulam Ali,” he said.
Gadkari also said the perception that he usually has his way with Modi, due to his proximity with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, was wrong. “No minister has any problem with the PM,” he said.