The BJP’s promise to work for a Ram temple at a disputed mosque site in Ayodhya, in its manifesto for the general election, has already discomfited one of its key southern allies.
Just a day after resurrecting his ties with the BJP, Andhra Pradesh politician Chandrababu Naidu faced uncomfortable questions today after the party’s manifesto release. Mr. Naidu, who heads the Telugu Desam Party or TDP, said his party always had a secular record.
“The alliance was a political compulsion, but the nation needs parties with secular credentials. TDP always had a secular record and we will fight for it,” Mr. Naidu said. “Under all circumstances we have to maintain the secular fabric of the country.”
Besides the Ram temple, the BJP has also included two other controversial promises – a uniform civil code and the removal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr. Naidu, who announced the tie-up with BJP despite protests by his cadre, told them, “Under the circumstances, there is no other alternative, so please understand the reality.”
A senior member of the TDP, Zahid Ali Khan, editor of Siasat daily, has quit the party protesting against the alliance.
Asked about his earlier stand blaming Narendra Modi for the rout of the BJP-led coalition in 2004, Mr Naidu said, “Recently the court have a clear verdict, so we need not discuss it.”
The TDP leader had ended his ties with the BJP after calling it the “biggest mistake of his life.” Mr. Modi is seen by many as a divisive leader who failed to check riots in his Gujarat in 2002. Last year, a court upheld a Supreme Court inquiry’s report that there was no evidence of his role.