Thackeray fumes over Gadkari remarks, BJP backs chief

Shiv Sena flayed Nitin Gadkari for his appeal to Muslims to adopt a generous attitude on the Ram temple.

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

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

"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.