Madurai: Insisting that BJP wanted to emerge as an "alternative" force in Tamil Nadu, party general secretary P Muralidhar Rao on Saturday said Union Minister Arun Jaitley meeting AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa did not mean that the two parties were coming together.
There was no link between Jaitley meeting Jayalalithaa and the possibility of the two parties coming together. BJP wanted to emerge as an alternative force in Tamil Nadu, he told reporters, days after the high profile meeting was condemned by opposition parties led by DMK which questioned its propriety, citing the pendency of the AIADMK chief's appeal in Karnataka High Court against her conviction in a corruption case.
"As a minister, Jaitley could have met the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister for so many reasons, including to get her party's support in the Lok Sabha to get bills passed. That does not mean the two parties are moving closer," he said.
This is the first elaborate clarification by a national level BJP leader after a controversy erupted over the January 18 meeting of Jaitley.
Last week, BJP state unit President Tamilisai Soundararajan had said the meeting was only to seek AIADMK's support for passage of crucial bills in Rajya Sabha, where NDA is in a minority.
Replying to a question on Ghar Wapsi programme by a Hindu outfit in Chennai yesterday, in which nine Christians were reconverted to Hindu religion, Rao put the onus on the state government to prevent forcible conversions, if any
He said the party is against the practice.
"If any other organisation like VHP is involved in conversion, it is a law and order problem and the state should take action. Anyway nobody can do anything about voluntarily converting to other religion," he said.
"The issue of conversion should be looked in the spirit that if there is conversion... There would be reconversion."
Rao said the fact that the state government had not registered any case proved there was no such thing as forcible conversion.
Rao denied that the party's candidate for the February 13 bypoll to Srirangam assembly constituency had a criminal case registered against him and said it had not been proven.
He said BJP wanted to enroll 60 lakh members in the state and was emerging as an alternative to DMK and AIADMK, with whom "people were disillusioned".
While the infighting in DMK was well known, AIADMK government had become dysfunctional, he alleged.
"People of the state are looking for good governance and development and BJP will be able to deliver it," he said.
He denied that Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' mantra meant that the BJP government was moving away from its Swadeshi slogan and said it was "Swadeshi centric", "ranging from defence equipment to ordinary things he wants made in the country."
To a question if he expected former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan, who quit Congress yesterday, to join BJP, he said the question should be posed to her. BJP did not have a hand in her quitting the party, as alleged by Congress, he said.