Bal Thackeray is a patriot : BJP

| 23 January 1999 21:46 IST

Despite his stand against the national agenda of promoting friendship and peace through sports, the Bharatiya Janata Party still calls Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray a real patriot while having difference of opinion on the methods he has adopted to express it.

On the contrary, the ruling party prefers to blame the opposition more than the elements like the Shiv Sena alleging that national parties like the Congress and the leftists are playing a destructive role against the national interest.

"We cannot call him unpatriotic because of a few incidents here and there", said BJP general secretary Venkaiah Naidu during his visit here today morning. While defining patriot as the one who loves his country and its people, he also refused to accept the fact that Thackeray was indirectly responsible for digging the Kotla ground in Delhi in protest of Pakistan's cricket tour to India.

In an attempt to justify the government action of not arresting Thackeray but only few Shiv Sainiks who destroyed the cricket pitch, Naidu also did not agree that the action was initiated by the Sainiks at the instance of their party supremo.

When a journalist pointed out that Srikrishna commission report had exposed the role played by the Shiv Sena against a section of Indian society during the Mumbai riots, Naidu tried to counter it by pointing out that the Congress elements are equally blamed for it in the report.

Even certain Congress leaders are having contacts with anti-nationals like Dawood Ibrahim and they have even bowed down before Imam of Jama Masjid who had given a call to boycott the republic day in the past, he went on, while justifying union home minister L K Advani's step to rush to Mumbai to have a meeting with Thackeray.

"It is height of political opportunism", says Naidu while blaming the Congress and the left trying to destabilise the popular government by winning over its allies, without naming anyone in particular. Accusing them of double standard, he felt their negative and destructive role was affecting the national interest at large.

Listing out the contradictory stance taken by the opposition on several occasions, he asked why the Congress took a different stand on the issues of women's quota bill, the Lok Pal bill, formation of new states, infiltration of Bengalis and the nuclear tests after sitting in the opposition.

Recalling that even Congress leader Arun Nehru and left leader Jyoti Basu had asked particular groups of missionaries to leave the place, he wondered why the pseudo secularists are opposing the call of national debate given by the prime minister on the issue of religious conversions. "We do not want all the missionaries to leave the country", he claimed.

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