New Delhi: Narendra Modi yesterday said he would reach out to Muslim "brothers" like any other citizen of the country and made it clear that the contentious issues of Ram Temple and Uniform Civil Code would be addressed within the constitutional framework.
The BJP's prime ministerial candidate underlined that he saw all Indians as one and it was his "responsibility" to reach out to all sections of society, which included Muslims.
"As chief minister of Gujarat, I have tried to connect to six crore people of the state as much as possible. Now I have been entrusted with the national responsibility. I will use all efforts at my command to reach out to 125 crore people. This is part of my responsibility and I must do it."
"It may mean walking 100 steps. I may walk three steps, five steps or seven steps, that is a different matter. But it is my responsibility that I must make demonstrative efforts to reach out to every citizen of the country," he said.
He was responding on ABP news channel's 'Ghoshnapatra' programme after being pointed out that he appeared to have started establishing contact with the Muslim community.
Asked specifically whether his efforts to reach out to every citizen included Muslims, Modi replied, "I will never go by this terminology of yours. Even if you drag me, I will not. I will meet my countrymen. I understand only one language that they are my countrymen, they are my brothers. You may see with whatever colour you want, Modi will not go into that colour."
He went on to add, "even if I lose elections, let it be so, I have no problem. But the country has been destroyed by this language, the mindset of you people and I will never own that mindset. And you please stop such attacks on my freedom."
Modi was asked about the issues of Ram Temple and Uniform Civil Code, which had been a major bone of contention between the BJP and Muslims, and asked whether he would implement these unfulfilled subjects of the BJP's agenda considering his 'tez tarrar' (feisty) image.
"The country does not run by 'tez tarrari' (feistiness) but by the Constitution. Feistiness is for elections but not for running the country," the BJP's prime ministerial nominee said, making it clear that he would abide by the Constitution on these issues.
He was also asked whether his work as prime minister would have an "RSS imprint" since he had been groomed by the organisation.
"Let me tell you, I have to run the government. A government runs according to the Constitution. I believe that a government has only one religion -- India first. A government has only one holy book -- our Constitution. A government has only one kind of devotion -- towards nation. A government has only one style of functioning -- 'sabka sath, sabka vikas' (cooperation of all, development of all)."
When referred to the 2002 riots, the Gujarat chief minister said he had "stood the test" and was "ready for any test" but would "never surrender before lies and political motives."
He said, "...Till 2007, I have spoken a lot on this issue. Whether you like it or not, I will not succumb to you (on the issue)."
Attacking the UPA government, he said it "dragged" him to the Supreme Court on the issue and "now I should not speak as SC should be influenced."
He, however, referred to the questioning he faced on the matter from investigators.
"Till now, no CM has been grilled by policemen for nine hours. It was done on the orders of Supreme Court. SC has seen the video of that recording. I have stood that test and even in future, I am ready for any test," he added.
Asked about the statement by the BJP leader Giriraj Singh that those opposing Modi should go to Pakistan, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate said "nobody can agree with that (statement)."
To buttress his point that he would not be vindictive, Modi said, "After election victory of 2002, I went to thank the electorate of Maninagar (in Gujarat). There, I said 'this government is of those who have elected it, this government is also of those who voted against and this government is also of those who did not go to vote'."
Asked about the voices with in the BJP who demand action against Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra in connection with alleged inappropriate land deals, Modi made it clear that he would focus on development rather than such issues which will be dealt with by the law as deemed fit.
"We get elected for five years and for five years should we roam around with this mess or do some good work? My personal belief is that my energy should not go into this energy, that my energy be utilised for positive and good work. Otherwise, five years is very less time. If we get entangled in this, what good work can we do," he said.
Citing his "track record" as chief minister for 14 years, he said it "shows that I have never opened any file against anybody. I believe that one gets entangled in such things and cannot do good work. I have only focused on positive initiative. I do not even keep information about old cases. It is for government, let them do."
At the same time, he said, "Nobody is above the law. Imagine if there allegations against Modi and he is the Prime Minister. Should the case not be pursued just because he has become the PM. It should not be so that it should be stopped. I am not above the law. I am not answering the question you asked. So do not mix up."
On the controversy as regards the 'marriage' section of his Lok Sabha nomination affidavit and whether he expected the same, he said, "I do not get surprised by anything. There is nothing in my life. They (rivals) have no issue so they will continue to do it."
The question related to his mentioning for the first time that he had a wife, over which he was attacked by the Congress and others.