“Metro man” Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, who is set to join the Bharatiya Janata Party, said on Friday that the political outfit was being “painted like a communal party”, NDTV reported. In an interview with the news channel, he said that the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre “accepts all communities alike”.
On communalism and ‘love jihad’
“BJP is being painted like a communal party today in the country,” Sreedharan said, when asked about his view on people’s perception of the saffron party. “...It is a party consisting of nation lovers and who accept that all parties, all communities are alike as far as they are concerned. I can see the way he [Modi] speaks, I have never seen him at any time attacking any religion. This religious bias in an unnecessarily taunt on BJP and very unjust, according to me.”
On being asked to comment on the BJP’s take on matters like “love jihad” and consumption of beef – a common practice among Hindus in Kerala, where Sreedharan will begin his political stint – the former Delhi Metro chief said that he will oppose “that sort of a thing”.
“Personally, I am a very, very strict vegetarian,” Sreedharan said. “I don’t even eat eggs so, certainly I don’t like anybody eating meat. That is certain and Love Jihad, yes, I see what is happened in Kerala. How Hindus are being tricked in a marriage and how they suffer...not only Hindus, Muslim, the Christian girls are being tricked in a marriage.”
“Love jihad” is a conspiracy theory espoused by right-wing Hindutva activists, alleging that Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage.
On farmers’ protest and intolerance
Speaking on the protest against the new agriculture laws, Sreedharan, in a separate interview to PTI, claimed that the farmers had not understood the reforms.
“Either farmers have not understood or they don’t want to understand for political reasons,” he said. “It has become a fashion in this country that whatever the (central) government does, oppose it….Anything that the government wants to do, there is an opposition unfortunately.”
He, however, ruled out the possibility of being a mediator between the farmers and the government, suggesting it was up to the Centre “educate” the protestors.
Sreedharan also denied that there was intolerance in the country, adding that it was “all just talk”.
“Where is intolerance?” the technocrat said. “We have got a very strong judiciary and intolerance cannot function, it is just talk. If their [Opposition] view is not accepted by government, they say it is intolerance. There is absolutely no intolerance according to me.”
He further added that “many petty parties” were against the BJP and were attacking it for no reason. “Unfortunately, some of our friends in opposite parties are working against the interests of the country,” he said.
Sreedharan also expressed his view on freedom of expression, asserting that it should not be “misused” against the country.
“If you go to a foreign government or medium and complain about all sorts of things about the government and convince them that the government is wrong, then that is a wrong thing...This is not freedom of expression,” he said. “This is sort of a war against the establishment, the government. This is how Hitler also started…giving false opinion that this is freedom of expression and misled people.”
On Thursday, the BJP had announced that Sreedharan will join the party on February 21, in a campaign programme called “Vijay Yatra”. The 88-year old Padma Vibhushan awardee, who will be joining the party months ahead of Assembly elections in Kerala, had said that he was also open to contesting in the polls.
Sreedharan said that both the ruling Left Democratic Front and the major Opposition, the Congress-led United Democratic Front, were “interested in their political growth”, and so the BJP was the only party that could do something for Kerala.