'Burqa' diktat by BJP for Narendra Modi's rally raises eyebrows

Narendra ModiNarendra Modi's Jaipur rally saw controversy over a purported direction by BJP asking Muslims to come dressed in skull caps and burqas. (PTI)

Narendra Modi's Jaipur rally on Tuesday saw controversy over a purported direction by BJP asking Muslims to come dressed in skull caps and burqas, with critics questioning the motive behind the "dress code".

The BJP, however, claimed that the direction by its minority cell has been "misunderstood" and no distinction had been made on the basis of religion. Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh asked if BJP was trying to enforce a "dress code" or playing "vote bank politics" by asking Muslims to attend its meetings wearing 'burqas' and skull caps.

"Whether it is a dress code or vote bank politics is a question which the media should ask the BJP," he said in a tweet. The BJP claimed that the instruction was that any woman wearing burqa should not be stopped from entering the venue as, it alleged, was done at a Congress rally citing security reasons.

"People were allowed to attend the (BJP) rally in their traditional dresses whether women were wearing burqa or jeans or men had "topi, safa, pagri" as headgear did not matter," party spokesperson Jyoti Kiran said.

Another spokesman Vimal Katiyar said, "BJP Minority Morcha state President Ameen Pathan had directed in his recent meeting on the eve of rally that any woman wearing burqa should not be stopped and allowed to enter the women's blocks at the rally venue.

"Same instructions were given for men wearing any headgear, topi, pagri, scarf. The entire subject was misunderstood and misinterpreted in media," he said, adding SMSes were sent to party workers right from booth level to invite people to the rally.

Scores of burqa-clad women attended the rally of Modi, who is believed to be days away from being named the BJP's prime ministerial candidate. Modi has been accusing Congress of following a policy of appeasement of Muslims and had even said it was wearing a "'burqa' of secularism".

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