Thackeray fumes over Gadkari remarks, BJP backs chief
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Last Updated: Sunday, February 21, 2010, 00:03
Mumbai/New Delhi: An angry Bal Thackeray on Saturday slammed BJP chief Nitin Gadkari for his appeal to Muslims to show generosity on the Ram temple issue, terming it an insult to kar sevaks who became "martyrs" in the movement.

Bringing to the fore differences between BJP and its ally Shiv Sena, Thackeray said things have come to such a level that Hindus have to "plead to Muslims" to allow construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.

"Appealing to Muslims (to help build Ram temple) is an insult to hundreds of kar sevaks who became martyrs during the Ram temple agitation," the Sena chief said in a hard-hitting editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana'.

The BJP, while admitting "distinct differences" with Sena on "many issues", stood by the new party chief, saying Gadkari had initiated a "new paradigm" that could "herald a new amity" and dismissed the charge that his statement amounted to insult to kar sevaks.

"This is a new paradigm, a new approach that Gadkari has initiated. We feel if the Muslims respond positively, it would herald a new amity and reinforce the bonds of a resurgent India," BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said in Delhi.

However, Thackeray struck a different note.

"The Prime Minister of this country says Muslims have the first right over India's resources and its 80 crore Hindus tolerate it meekly. Muslims have everything and Hindus don't even have their Ram temple. Things have come to such a level that Hindus have to plead to Muslims (to allow Ram temple)," he said.

Prasad, however, insisted that the Ram temple stayed at the core of BJP's agenda.

"Gadkari has always said Ram temple is the soul of the BJP. Today he has made an appeal to the Muslim community that Ram is sacred for us, Ayodhya is pious for us. Please respect the sentiments of the Hindus and if you do certainly we will talk to the Sants and Manishis of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement so that a mosque can be built at any appropriate place," he said.

In his editorial piece, Thackeray launched a scathing attack against Gadkari, also from Maharashtra, saying "if permission of Muslims is to be sought for building the Ram temple, why was the temple agitation launched in the first place?"

"Hindus could have fallen at the feet of the Imam of Jama Masjid and got a piece of land for Ram temple. It was easily possible. But Hindus have shed blood for the Ram temple," Thackeray wrote.


First Published: Sunday, February 21, 2010, 00:03

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