Last Updated: Monday, May 05, 2014, 21:45
Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party's PM candidate Narendra Modi on Monday sought to allay any apprehensions among Muslims and ruled out scrapping any existing constitutional and statutory mechanisms meant for their welfare.
Modi termed secularism as an "import" from the West and said he would instead work to strengthen them and all communities alike.
Modi said that Congress has used the 'secularism' tag to pocket Muslim votes and they are now being treated as a "vote bank" by it and other parties.
In an interview to Urdu weekly 'Nai Duniya', he said the Constitution has given equal rights to all citizens and religious harmony and respect for all religions are in "India's DNA".
Asked if he would do away with the Minority Commission, Minority Finance Development Corporation as feared by his critics, Modi said, "There is a need to strengthen constitutional and statutory bodies and not to abolish them.
"The need is to make them productive and strong so that they could do solid work instead of continuing with the existing system which takes symbolic measures."
On question whether BJP would bring a Uniform Civil Code, the BJP leader said its implementation does not mean that Hindu Code would be imposed on all citizens of the country.
"Constitution says that the government will make efforts to implement the Uniform Civil Code... I believe that there are several provisions in the Hindu Code which are irrelevant and they need reforms. Carrying 18th century laws in 21st century is unnecessary," he said.
Implementation of Uniform Civil Code is one of the core issues of BJP and finds mention in its manifesto.
Modi said "extremism" over castes and religions have been used to divide the country and advocated "zero tolerance" for the guilty in religious and caste violence.
In such issues, he said, more than government actions it is the dialogue among different sections of society which is more important.
Arguing that secularism has been "exploited" for political purpose, Modi said the politics in present times is revolving around it.
"This is used to mislead and frighten people and deviate ffrom main issues such as poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. Political parties are frightening Muslims in the name of secularism and turning them into vote banks," he said.
The word secularism was included in the preamble of the constitution in 1976 by bringing in the 42nd Constitutional amendment by the then Indira Gandhi government.
Under attack for refusing to wear a skull cap, Modi said the Muslim religious symbol should be used for worshipping and not for political gains.
"I think that the politics over the Muslim skull cap should be put to an end as politics over anybody's religious faith is condemnable... The symbol of Muslims' faith should be kept away from politics.
"Neither should it be insulted nor should there be any politics over it. The skull cap of a Muslim is for worshipping and not for politics," he said.
Modi has been under attack for refusing to weak a skull cap offered by a muslim cleric a few years back with critics accusing him of being anti-secular.
Asked if he had bitterness for Muslims as they don't vote for the BJP, the Gujarat Chief Minister said, "I doubt such an analysis by poll pundits. It is absolutely wrong to say that Muslims don't vote for BJP. The extensive support received by the party is a proof that people of all religion and cults are with us."
"There is no question of having bitterness (for Muslims). The assembly elections have proved that a large number of Muslims are standing with the BJP. This misinformation campaign should be put to an end and the game to mislead a community should end," he said.
With Agency Inputs
First Published: Monday, May 05, 2014, 21:45