A month-and-a-half after his face was smeared with ink, Sudheendra Kulkarni, former BJP leader and aide to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said Friday that he feels satisfied that he did not surrender to Shiv Sena’s threat.
Speaking at Pakistan High Commission in Chanakyapuri, Kulkarni advocated a possible bilateral visit to Pakistan by PM Narendra Modi before SAARC summit in Islamabad next year. He also hoped the cricket series between the two nations can be played in a third country.
Last month, Shiv Sainiks smeared Kulkarni’s face with ink over him hosting the launch of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book Neither a Hawk nor a Dove in Mumbai.
Kulkarni, chairman of Observer Research Foundation’s Mumbai chapter, said, “I feel satisfied we did not surrender before Shiv Sena’s threat. That…we dented its reputation that its writ…runs in Bombay. Mumbai wasiyon ne Shiv Sena ko bata diya ki unki nahin chalti hai.”
Stating that Modi has visited most neighbours except Pakistan, he said: “I want PM to visit Pakistan for a bilateral visit…he had said at the SAARC summit, ‘hum paas paas hain, par saath saath nahin hain’. He should affirm and assert his position, and the soil is ready for a breakthrough.”
Stressing that common people of India and Pakistan desire good relations between the two countries, he said: “Those opposed to normalisation of bilateral relations are a minority. But… they are a powerful and influential minority. Their voice remains powerful because those in ruling establishments… have not been able to firmly decide that normalisation is the only option they should pursue.”
Calling the dispute between India and Pakistan political and not religious, he said, “India will never accept the Two Nation theory. Because if do so, we would acknowledge that there are two nations even within today’s India – a Hindu India and a Muslim India. And let us not forget that the population of Muslims in India is no less than that of Muslims in Pakistan.”
Emphasising that Pakistan should “stop with a heavy hand” the cross-border terrorism originating from its territory, he said an early and amicable solution to the Kashmir dispute is a pre-condition for abiding peace between the two countries.