We are reaching out to our Muslim brothers: Former Mumbai top cop
In the run up to the general election, the BJP is "reaching out to the minorities", especially Muslims who are "brothers", in the hope of convincing them to accept Narendra Modi as the country's next prime minister, former Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh, who recently joined the party, has said.
In an interview to IANS over phone, Singh said party workers and leaders, in their respective states, were focusing on neighbourhoods dominated by minorities and helping them form an informed opinion.
"We are reaching out to the minorities including Muslims as they are our brothers," Singh said adding that the exercise was being done to remove fallacies about Modi and the 2002 Gujarat riots.
"If the system which we have created gives a clean chit to a person (Modi) then who are we to find a fault with it?" said Singh referring to the judgment by the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigative Team that emancipated Modi.
"If a riot takes place in a state, is only the CM responsible? What about the officers? Human rights organizations? Aren't they responsible and accountable," he asked.
Singh further ruled out any possibility of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) hurting the BJP in the polls.
"They (AAP) have shown the way, yes and have an influence in the NCR (national capital region) but cannot take on Modi. I don't see it (AAP) as a political challenge for us," said Singh.
"As far as the country's prime minister is concerned, the voters are clear that they want Modi for the job," he added.
The AAP made a stunning debut in the Delhi assembly election winning 28 of the 70 seats.
Fifty nine-year-old Singh quit from the Indian Police Service Jan 31 "weighing future career options." An officer of the 1980 batch, Singh had taken over as Mumbai police chief in Aug 2012. He was earlier with the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Known for his controversial statements several times in his professional life, Singh becomes the first city police commissioner to quit while in service.
"I had already worked for the police department for 33 years and had done enough. My sphere of working was limited as I was confined to Mumbai city. I wanted to contribute towards nation building and that could be done only through politics," he said.
"Now I will be working for the entire nation. If you want to change the society, the good people with clean intentions need to come out and work," he added.
According to Singh, he felt "connected" with the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) ideology and hence joined it.
"I connected with the party's ideology of nation building and communal and social harmony," said Singh adding that he has "never been affiliated with the Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh ever in his life."
While heading the Mumbai police, Singh dealt with aggressive regional players like the Shiv Sena, an ally of the BJP and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), notorious for their protests and agitations that often turn violent.
The ransacking of toll-booths by the MNS last week was one of the many face-offs that that have taken place between the outfits and police.
Admitting that he did not agree with the politics of Shiv Sena, Singh said he would voice his opinion against anything he does not agrees with.
"Had I agreed with the politics of Shiv Sena, I would have joined it. If I don't agree with something, I will voice my opinion," Singh told IANS, when asked about the the possibility of him working with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.
"I am not interested in regional politics but national politics... I have joined (BJP) at the national level. So, I would not be working with them (Shiv Sena)," he added.
Ready to perform "any responsibility given by the party," Singh said he would personally like to transform the country's education system.
"According to me we have to shake up things in our education system." Citing a survey, Singh said that "only 18 percent of graduating engineers in India were employable."
"This paints a very dismal picture of higher education in our country and the situation is probably worse in schools. The new government has to focus on education."
Eager to fight from Uttar Pradesh, Singh rejected the Election Commission's proposal of imposing a cooling-off period between a bureaucrat's retirement and formal entry into a political party saying it was an "an individual opinion" and that "everybody has the fundamental right to join politics and fight elections."
(Rahul Vaishnavi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 27-02-2014)