Defending his government and party at a time when the Opposition continues to attack the Centre on mob lynchings, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari Tuesday said that the BJP does not support lynchings or fringe elements who are prone to make incendiary statements.
“Nobody from the sangh (parivar) supports lynchings,” said Gadkari and added that said such incidents have also happened in the past. According to him, the meaning of secularism in the Indian context is “sarva dharm sambhav” or to have the same feeling towards all religions.
The Union Minister also said that his government did not believe in “appeasing” any single community and does not discriminate between people based on their caste, creed, and religion or on any other lines.
Gadkari was speaking at a panel discussion after former President Pranab Mukherjee launched a book, ‘India’s Vibgyor Man – Selected Writings & Speeches of Dr LM Singhvi’. The book is a compilation of former lawyer, parliamentarian and envoy LM Singhvi’s writings and speeches edited by his son, Congress spokesperson and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Supreme Court advocate Lokendra Malik.
The panel discussion, titled ‘Is India losing its identity or realising it’ included Gadkari, former cabinet minister and Congress leader Anand Sharma, Pavan Varma of the JD(U), Dinesh Trivedi of the TMC, Pinaki Mishra of the BJD, Naresh Gujral of the SAD and Abhishek Manu Singhvi. It was moderated by journalist Karan Thapar. Sharma said that the country is witnessing a “vitiated political atmosphere” and if the right of those who oppose the government “is taken away that will undermine the democracy” in the country.
The JD(U)’s Varma said that the Hinduism he knows is “dialogic” and that debates could happen “without resorting to violence” and diversity “underpins” India’s identity. But, there are fringe elements in every party, said SAD’s Gujral, and that today “rulers have to balance unity with diversity” in India. According to the BJD’s Mishra, it wasn’t just the fringe but it was “lumpenism” caused by a combination of “economic factors” and a “breakdown of the rule of law” that was the cause of the issues prevalent today adding that the states are “complicit” in it. Lumpenism, he said, was also because there weren’t enough jobs.
Under fire, Gadkari said that incidents of lynching or communal riots are not restricted to the BJP regime only but have happened under various dispensations and referred to the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.
Responding to him, Sharma said neither the Congress nor its leaders supported the riots.