Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday feigned ignorance about ‘love jihad’, which has in the recent past emerged as a key campaign by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders such as the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit chief Lakshmikant Bajpayee and Yogi Adityanath, member of Parliament from Gorakhpur.
The home minister, who also hails from Uttar Pradesh, said he has no inkling about the phenomenon, which according to the Sangh Parivar and Shiv Sena, is a “global conspiracy” where Muslim men “entrap” Hindu women to marry them.
“Arey yeh hai kya? Hume nahi maloom (What is this, I don’t know),” is how Singh replied when asked that BJP leaders from UP, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat issuing statements asking Hindu girls to stay away from Muslims.
Singh’s reply evoked laughter from those gathered media persons there to attend the home minister’s interaction with the media on the Modi government completing 100 days.
“I have no idea,” was all Singh was willing to say when persistently queried. Earlier this week, M Venkaiah Naidu, another senior minister in the Modi government, had told a television channel that he disagreed with UP BJP head Bajpayee’s comments against Muslims. He had also said he didn’t know what ‘love jihad’ was, that Hindus and Muslims needed to live together and community leaders should sit together to resolve differences.
Adityanath had recently stated: “Jihad in the name of love is unacceptable,” and that only a BJP-led state government could “stop forceful conversion of Hindu girls”.
Party sources say some of the senior leaders in the party are not comfortable with aggressive elements such as Adityanath and even Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated outfits such as Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad monopolising the social and political discourse and pushing saner voices to the margins.
He also said that his relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi are cordial. “He is our Prime Minister and an effective PM; and I am the home minister in his government. What else.” After a pause, he had continued: “Humare sambandh madhur they, madhur hai aur madhur rahenge (Our relations were cordial, are cordial and will always remain like that).”
On his government’s willingness to talk with Left-wing extremists if they shun the path of violence, Singh said: “We are ready to talk to anyone who leave the path of violence. We have even asked their ideologues to come to negotiating table.”
On the floods in Kashmir, the home minister said of the 1,200 affected villages in the Kashmir Valley, 400 were completely submerged under water and 130,000 people were rescued by the Army, Air Force, Navy and National Disaster Response Force. He said 1,100 villages were hit by floods in Jammu, of which 300 were completely submerged.
Singh added disaster relief funds of Rs 1,100 crore were with the Jammu & Kashmir government and 90 per cent of this money was contributed by the Centre.