BJP ready to apologise for mistakes, says Rajnath Singh, reaching out to Muslims

New Delhi:  Last year, Narendra Modi said he regretted the 2002 Gujarat riots under his watch. Ahead of the national election three months away, his BJP has gone a step further by offering an apology for “any mistake.”
“I assure you. If there has been any mistake, we will bow down and ask for forgiveness,” BJP chief Rajnath Singh told a gathering of Muslims in the Capital, appealing to the community not to go by “propaganda” of the Congress and other parties. 
He did not mention the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. 

The BJP President told his audience, “Try us once. (If) We don’t come up to your expectations, don’t look at us ever again.” he said.

The remarks were a sign that the BJP is willing to explore ways of attracting minority voters who might be adrift due to general disenchantment, in its “Modi for PM: 272” campaign. That is the number they will need in the 545-member Lok Sabha to take power at the Centre. 

Mr Modi, who has steered clear of religious rhetoric and focused on a development pitch during his campaign, was not present at this event.

His critics accuse him of not doing enough to stop the riots that tore through Gujarat 14 years ago. But closer to the Lok Sabha polls this summer, his party perceives a wave in his favour. Overtures by the US and the UK are also being seen to signal the end of the Gujarat chief minister’s international isolation over the riots.

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley described today’s gathering as one of many to be held across the country, to “allay misconceptions” created by opponents.

“An organized campaign has gone on for several years to create a fear factor amongst the minorities about the BJP,” Mr Jaitley said in a blog. “The clear distinction between the BJP and others is that we do not treat minorities as instruments of political power.”