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Thackeray says Modi must stay

Source: PTI
June 22, 2004 16:02 IST
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Rushing to the support of embattled Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Shiv Sena on Tuesday said the Bharatiya Janata Party must not remove Modi under pressure from the opposition.

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"It [the removal of Modi] is an issue made out by the opposition. Why are you [BJP] removing him under pressure? You [BJP] think of your party's interest," Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray told a TV channel.

Thackeray said the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 were a reaction to what happened in Godhra. "If the reaction to the demolition of Babri Masjid can be felt in Mumbai, why can't the reaction to Godhra occur in other parts of Gujarat?" he asked.

Over 800 people were killed in a communal flare-up in Gujarat after two bogies of a train carrying mostly Hindu pilgrims from Ayodhya were set on fire in Godhra.

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, while on a holiday in Manali in Himachal Pradesh earlier this month, had listed the riots a one of the factor that led to BJP's defeat in the last general election.

The Sena chief said he does not agree with Vajpayee's assessment. He said the BJP's poor performance in the election was because it moved away from its 'Hindutva agenda.'

"Their policy [of appeasement of minorities] helped them [the BJP] little. When I asked senior BJP leaders before elections if their tally of 182 seats would increase or decrease, nobody was sure," Thackeray said.

Thackeray also claimed that deep inside BJP workers were not too happy with the party's appeasement of minorities. "Many would say that they were towing the line because their party directed them to do so," he said.

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