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BJP releases 'vision document'

By Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Last updated on: March 31, 2004 18:46 IST
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Bharatiya Janata Party chief M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday released the party's vision document.

Apparently targeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the document states the BJP's objective for a "legislation to ensure that important offices of the Indian state can be occupied only by those who are India's natural citizens by their Indian origin".

Naidu raised other sensitive issues in the document and said that the BJP wanted a Ram temple in Ayodhya and a Uniform Civil Code.

Indians wanted a temple in Ayodhya, he said, adding that the issue would be resolved through Hindu-Muslim talks. "This would start a new chapter in Hindu-Muslim relations."

The BJP had "education, economic upliftment and empowerment" in mind for Muslims, he said.

However, he added, "Muslims should not tread the beaten path."

Naidu made it clear that the party's vision document was not its manifesto.

"The BJP, being a constituent party, will fight the polls according to the National Democratic Alliance manifesto," he said.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will release the NDA manifesto after consultations with BJP's partners, he added.

He said his party's aim was to secure a two-thirds majority for the NDA under Vajpayee's leadership.

Among the 25 points in the document, there is the controversial one relating to imposing a ban on religious conversions "through fraudulent and coercive means".

The document envisages intensifying dialogue with Pakistan to find a lasting solution to bilateral issues and raising India's standing in the world.

He also spoke of launching a second green revolution and doubling food grain production and farmers' income by 2010.

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Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi