Saffron Turns Green: Vajpayee Rolls Out Red Carpet To Muslims

New Delhi, Feb 25: | Updated: Feb 26 2004, 05:30am hrs
We shall walk hand-in-hand. This was the message that the Bharatiya Janata Party sent out to the Muslims, at a huge minorities conference, addressed, among others, by Prime Minister AB Vajpayee, finance minister Jaswant Singh and party president Venkaiah Naidu, at the Talkatora Stadium here on Wednesday.

Seeking to woo the Muslims, Vajpayee asked them to choose between BJP and the beaten path they had traversed all along in the coming elections as the party accused the Opposition of creating a fear psychosis among them.

Consider my appeal. Get out of the beaten path and take a decision in the interest of the nation, he told the gathering.

Rejecting the charge that BJP is communal and questioning the basis of the criticism, he said in fact it is the Congress which is supporting the Muslim League. In a half-serious half-lighter vein, Vajpayee wondered why BJP is not getting votes from all despite all attempts. We (BJP) want to discuss this. We want to know what is it that keeps it (Muslim votes) away from us, Vajpayee said, adding, in the earlier elections, the simple question was to vote for the Congress. But now it is not so easy. The Muslims should think as to where their interests could be protected. There is no issue that cannot be resolved through discussions.

I have come here to appeal to you take a considered view and then decide, he said, adding, development would be the focus of the elections. The Congress always took the Muslim votes for granted.