Afraid that senior party leader V K Malhotra’s remarks – that areas like Jamia Nagar and Batla House are “safe houses” for terrorists – could hurt his election campaign, Delhi BJP chief Harsh Vardhan continues to be in damage-control mode.
A day after he called Malhotra to explain where the party as well as he stood on the issue, Harsh Vardhan on Monday told a minority conference that no place can be termed a terrorist hub as far as the BJP was concerned.
“This time, Muslims have already decided to vote for the BJP. The BJP is the only party in India that does not relate any class, religion or community with terrorism. Terrorism is a global problem… No place can be termed a terrorist hub as far as the BJP is concerned,” Harsh Vardhan told a minority conference in Keshavpuram, which falls under the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha constituency from where he is contesting.
He said after coming to power, the BJP will accord highest priority to the education of Muslims.
Harsh Vardhan even referred to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for the coming polls. “The Muslim community has already seen development during the Vajpayee government. Under Narendra Modi, the community won’t be treated as a votebank only, but steps will be taken to raise the community’s educational and social standards,” he said.
Harsh Vardhan’s remarks were seen as a damage-control exercise after Malhotra’s comments hurt not only ordinary Muslims but minority leaders within the party as well. BJP’s minority cell chief Atif Rashid has distanced himself from Malhotra’s comments.
“We do not stand for such generalisations, we are a national party looking at development for all, across communities and creeds. We do not stand for branding communities and localities as terrorists,” he said earlier.
On Sunday, Harsh Vardhan spoke to Malhotra. “I called Malhotra and told him that our stand is that terrorism has no colour or creed, and such politically potent statements are completely unnecessary before the polls…,” he said.
For Harsh Vardhan, who is fighting his first election in Chandni Chowk where Muslims constitute 15 per cent of the electorate, his hectic campaign schedule over the past week has been structured around “issues” concerning Muslims such as health, education and sanitation of the area.