In Darul’s Deoband, BJP's Nitin Gadkari talks ‘harmony’, slams anti-Islam film

Nitin Gadkari

Addressing the first rally held by the BJP during non-election times in Deoband, Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday reiterated that the party would work towards "social harmony", without any discrimination on the basis of religion. The BJP president also repeated his condemnation of the anti-Islam film that has provoked Muslim protests.

It was Gadkari's first rally after the recent BJP national conclave, where too he had talked of social harmony and slammed the controversial film.

Deoband is the seat of the prestigious Islamic seminary Darul Uloom.

"The BJP believes in social harmony where there is no discrimination on the basis of religion or caste... We respect all religions. That is why the BJP condemned the anti-Islam film," Gadkari said at the rally. Like the party meeting at Surajkund, he skipped mention of Ram temple, Article 370 and the common civil code.

However, in a sign of the difficult balancing act the BJP has to manage as it tries to expand its support base, party vice-president Vinay Katiyar used the same dais to invoke his controversial remarks that the "Darul Uloom should stop training of terrorists".

"I had said that Deoband should stop being a training ground for terrorists. I had said nothing wrong," Katiyar said, by way of talking about the Samajwadi Party government's "Muslim appeasement" policies. He spoke before Gadkari.

He also went on to assert the BJP's commitment towards the Ram temple, amid cheers. "If Ram temple is not constructed in India, then is it going to be built in Pakistan?" Katiyar exhorted.

Attacking the SP government, he said BJP-ruled states did not indulge in appeasement policies and yet had been riots free.

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