Panaji: A day after Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was appointed chairman of the BJP's election management committee, a party legislator from Goa lambasted him for backing a religious conference which propagated a "Hindu nation".
Dramatist and BJP legislator from St. Andre constituency, Vishnu Wagh, questioned Modi's secular credentials in the Monday edition of 'Goa Doot' newspaper, the saffron party's mouthpiece.
"How could Modi send a congratulatory message to this convention which is openly demanding that India should be made a Hindu nation? Our constitution says India is a secular country and Modi has sworn to uphold the same constitution when he was elected chief minister of Gujarat," Wagh said in his column 'Bahujan Mat' in the regional vernacular daily.
Wagh was referring to the four-day conference organised by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti at the Ramnathi temple complex, 35 km from Panaji, June 6-10. Interestingly, the conference coincided with the three-day BJP conclave, which included a two-day meeting of the party's national executive that endorsed Modi's appointment.
The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti conference was attended by over 250 delegates who debated a variety of issues related to Hinduism and ways to make India a Hindu state.
Wagh said it was shocking that Modi's written congratulatory message was read out during the conference, which was also attended by Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik, who was instrumental in the attack on boys and girls in Mangalore's pubs some years back.
"It is shocking that Modi's congratulatory message was read out at a conference that openly speaks of doing away with secularism. What was Modi thinking when he sent it to them?" Wagh said.
Modi's written message to the organisers of the conference said: "Only by protecting our culture, the flag of dharma and unity can be kept intact. Organisations inspired by nationalism, patriotism and devotion for the nation are true manifestations of people's power".
Modi, who has faced flak from the opposition and civil rights groups over his role during the 2002 post Godhra riots, had also said in his message: "Even though every Hindu conducts himself with love, compassion and intimacy with god, giving precedence to non-violence, truth and 'sattvikta', repelling demoniacal tendencies is in our destiny. It is our tradition to remain ever alert and raise a voice against any type of persecution."
Modi's ascent in the party at a national level Sunday, triggered the resignation of BJP patriarch L.K. Advani from all posts help by him Monday. BJP president Rajnath Singh has rejected Advani's resignation.