L.K. Advani's letter to religious leaders

Following is the letter by Shri L.K. Advani, Leader of the Opposition (Lok Sabha) to religious leaders posted on BJP’s website.

Most Revered

Kindly accept my namaskar on behalf of my party and self.

I am writing this to seek your blessings as the Bharatiya Janata Party and the National Democratic Alliance gear up for the elections to the 15th Lok Sabha. My party and our alliance are seeking the mandate of the people of India to form the next government on the promise of Good Governance, Development and Security. Should we win the mandate, it would be our endeavour to provide an honest and corruption-free government, committed to protecting the vital interests of the nation and dedicated to promoting the welfare of the people, especially those who are underprivileged.

You are well aware of the state of the nation today. National security has been threatened by cross-border terrorism, which claimed more innocent lives in India in the past five years than the combined terrorism-related toll in the entire world, except Iraq. Unchecked infiltration from Bangladesh has, as warned by the Supreme Court itself, assumed the proportions of an “external aggression”. India’s neighbourhood is in turmoil, with anti-India forces raising their heads everywhere. The developments in Pakistan, in particular, portend ill for India. Our country’s traditional friendship with Nepal and Sri Lanka is under stress.

Mismanagement of the economy in the past five years has brought enormous misery to the common people. The unprecedented rise in the prices of essential commodities has affected all sections of society. The bubble of the stock market-oriented economic growth has burst and the country finds itself in a deep economic crisis. In addition to the existing problem of widespread unemployment, our country is now witnessing a new problem of job losses on a massive scale. Uncertainty and insecurity have gripped the lives of our young people. What has pained me the most is suicide by thousands of debt-ridden kisans, the anna-daatas who feed the nation. I have rarely seen such despair in India as I do now.

It will be my sincere endeavour, and the first priority of a future NDA government if it is elected by the people, to replace this mood of despair with hope and confidence.

India is a deeply religious country. Our people have unshakeable faith in religion, and seek the guidance of religious leaders like you in matters both worldly and other-worldly. This is because religion in India has always cared for the well-being of the nation and its people, and striven for strengthening the ethical edifice of both the state and society. I am sure that you will give the right guidance in the present circumstances.

Our promises to the people will be presented in the NDA’s Agenda of Governance. But I would like to take this opportunity to mention a few specific assurances that are relevant to religious establishments in the country.

• It will be my endeavor to seek on a regular basis the guidance of spiritual leaders of all denominations on major challenges and issues facing the nation. For this, we shall evolve a suitable consultative mechanism.

• We shall end governmental neglect of the multi-faith spiritual heritage of India. The advocacy and practice of secularism, which unfortunately has come to acquire an anti-religious or religion-neutral connotation in the past five years, will be restored to its true meaning — Sarva Panth Samaadar (equal respect for all faiths). We would like religious establishments to play an important role in inculcating spiritual and patriotic values in our people, thereby creating a society of enlightened citizens.

• We shall launch a National Mission for the beautification and development of all major pilgrimage centres of all faith-communities, providing good amenities to pilgrims on the lines of what has been achieved at Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine and Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. The National Mission will be chaired by the Prime Minister. Given a series of mishaps in recent years, ensuring safety and security of pilgrims will be accorded high priority.

• Cleaning up of the Ganga and other rivers will be a matter of high priority.

• Ram Sethu will be protected.

• Controversies like the one that arose over the allotment of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board in Jammu & Kashmir will not be repeated.

• Protection of cow and her progeny will be our solemn commitment.

• All foreign funds will be regulated as per government norms to ensure that they are used solely for the purpose for which they are received. Religious conversions using fraudulent and unethical means will be outlawed.

• I am aware that religious organizations often face a lot of difficulties in government-related matters, especially while getting their IT exemptions renewed. Hence, our government will create a special cell to facilitate the works of all religious institutions.

• All social welfare and nation-building activities of religious institutions (mid-day meal schemes, environment protection, value- based education, care of orphans, etc.) will be duly supported by the central government.

• Spiritual tourism will be promoted in a big way.

• Government will take major steps to promote India’s spiritual heritage worldwide.

As Dharam Guru, your good self has always worked for peace, harmony, unity, well-being and brotherhood without boundaries in society. These are also the values that I believe in. It has been my lifelong conviction that politics, governance and other national affairs should be guided by lofty ideals as enshrined in the concept of Ram Rajya (Ideal State), popularized by Mahatma Gandhi.

At the present crucial juncture in our nation’s life, when people are looking for a decisive change, I seek your blessings, guidance and support.

With Sashtang Namaskar,

L.K. Advani

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