In what may kick off a fresh controversy, senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said BJP felt good governance was more important than secularism and denied that party chief Rajnath Singh had apologised to Muslims for any mistakes committed by the party in the past. Naqvi, a former union minister and one of the BJP's minority mascots questioned if the Congress had apologised for riots which had occurred under its watch.
"Secularism is an issue, but only secularism is not an issue. Our priority is sushashan, good governance," said Naqvi, while speaking in Mumbai on Saturday, adding that however they were committed to secularism as enshrined in the constitution.
He said other parties had ensured that good governance had taken a backseat and had played politics only in the name of secularism and stressed that the BJP valued good governance, development, poverty alleviation and unity of the country more than anything.
"The so-called secular parties have fed people the opium of secularism and have taken them away from good governance...and development," Naqvi alleged. "For us, secularism and good governance are important issues. The BJP is committed to the constitution, for us sushasan (good governance) is not just religion but raj dharma," said Naqvi.
Without naming either the Aam Aadmi Party or its leader Arvind Kejriwal, Naqvi said that "so-called NGOs, so-called political parties" were accusing the system of corruption and taking on a holier than thou attitude. He claimed that the BJP and its prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi had ushered in an atmosphere of change.
Naqvi denied that Singh had apologised to Muslims. In an attempt to build bridges with Muslims, Singh had reportedly said he was ready to make amends for any mistakes committed by the party in the past. "There is no need for us to apologise," he said, when asked if the BJP was ready to apologise to Muslims (for the Babri Masjid demolition or 2002 Gujarat riots).
Naqvi questioned whether the Congress had apologised for riots in places like Bhagalpur, Bhiwandi and Meerut during its time in government. Senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde too said the saffron party did not work on narrow considerations like caste and religion.
Naqvi also pointed to how three major Dalit leaders-- Ramdas Athavale (Maharashtra), Ramvilas Paswan (Bihar) and Udit Raj (Uttar Pradesh) had joined forces with the BJP and claimed that the party would win over 300 Lok Sabha seats.
Naqvi accused the Congress leaders of being in a defeated mindset and claimed that hence, they were using intemperate language against Modi.