Jaipur: In an effort to reach out to minorities ahead of 2014 General Elections, BJP President Rajnath Singh on Saturday appealed to Muslims to forget or ignore the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
"There may have been some incidents but can we not ignore them now? It shouldn't be tied to BJP forever. Incidents have been happening and 13,000 communal riots took place in the country before 2002. Rajasthan has seen the regime of Bhairo Singh Shekhawat and Vasundhara Raje but there had been no discrimination against minorities," Singh said at function organised by a local TV channel here.
"I want to build confidence among you (Muslims) that there is no difference in our words and deeds. British ruled with 'divide and rule' policy, but after 66 years of independence governments could not bridge the gap between Hindus and Muslims," the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said at seminar on 'issues before minorities' organised by ETV.
He even said they can always approach him if the community faces any discrimination in the BJP-ruled states. "If you find any discrimination with the community in any of the BJP-ruled states, come to me with your complaint or write to me; I will reply and try to solve the problem," Singh added.
Singh also underlined the importance of paying respect to each other saying,"This was important in order to make the country and society sensible."
He also said that the party was not doing politics to gain power. "We are trying to touch your hearts by love and affection and not by sense of fear. We want to build confidence among you," he said.
However, when Singh was leaving after addressing the function he was aggressively challenged by Rajasthan Minority Commission Chairman Mahir Azad to explain why "discrimination against Muslims prevailed in Gujarat". However, Singh did not react and left the venue.
"You asked Muslims to write to you about discrimination in BJP-ruled states, but why you are not saying about Gujarat. Why discrimination was there in Gujarat? Students from the minority community are deprived of scholarship. Fund for minority welfare and development allocated by the Centre is not being utilised for years. You should clarify this to people here," Azad said.
Later, BJP minority cell's state president Amin Pathan went up to the dais to counter Azad's allegations, but he had to face resistance and mike was snatched from him.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain, who was accompanying Singh, told reporters that the allegations levelled by Azad were baseless and Azad was doing politics on a wrong occasion.
With Additional Inputs from PTI