World Bulletin / News Desk
India's right-wing Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is willing to apologize to Indian Muslims for past "mistakes", the party's president Rajnath Singh said Tuesday.
“Please note that whenever, wherever if there has been any mistake and shortcoming on our part, I assure you that we will apologize to you by bowing our heads,” Singh told a gathering of Muslims at an election campaign event in New Delhi.
Singh said that Muslims must not listen to “propaganda” against the BJP.
“Try us once. If we don’t come up to your expectations, don’t look at us ever again,” he said.
BJP needs 272 seats out of a total 545 to form the next federal government.
Singh did not elaborate on what he meant by “mistakes” but indirectly referred to riots in Gujarat in 2002, which killed more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, under the governance of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
“[The] country’s biggest court has said that the talk of 2002 was baseless,” Singh said without explicitly naming the Gujarat 2002 riots.
Last year, Modi said he regretted, but did not apologise for, the 2002 Gujarat riots occurring under his watch, after a city magistrate declared that there was no prosecutable evidence that Modi was complicit in the riots.
The case against Modi remains in court - as the magistrate’s decision can be challenged in High Court and Supreme Court.
Modi has been accused by of not doing enough during the riots.
Senior BJP leader and lawyer Arun Jaitley said that Tuesday’s gathering was just one of many to be held across the country to “allay misconceptions” about the party.
“An organized campaign has gone on for several years to create a fear factor amongst the minorities about the BJP,” Jaitley wrote in a blog post. “The clear distinction between the BJP and others is that we do not treat minorities as instruments of political power,” he said.
Professor Juzar Bandukwala, from the University of Baroda in Gujarat, whose house was ransacked in 2002 riots, told Anadolu Agency that the apology will never come.
“BJP President has the audacity to ask Muslims to vote for Modi. Leave aside the apology that will never come, what about the huge suffering that Gujarat Muslims went through twelve years ago,” Bandukwala told AA.
“I still cannot pass by the road where I lived so happily, until it was destroyed in 2002,” he said.Last Mod: 26 Şubat 2014, 11:52