A moderate voice in a right-wing outfit

In contrast to several hawkish senior leaders, Singh’s  was a liberal voice that represented the English-speaking, progressive view in the party that had helped it to reach a wider urban constituency beyond its conservative, Hindu chauvinist, trader base.

He was among the few BJP leaders who did not mince words in criticising the Sri Rama Sene, a right-wing fundamentalist outfit whose members attacked a group of women in a Mangalore pub in January this year.

After the Mangalore attack, Singh had said: “It (the assault on women in the pub by the Sene activists) is an obscenity. Who gives them the moral right to police our society? It can only be possible in the absence of any understanding about our culture, ethos and liberal values.”

“I cannot countenance efforts to Talibanise Hindu society,”he said, when his own party leaders were giving conflicting reactions, sometimes defending the attack on women in the pub and sometimes washing their hands of it. Though there is a BJP government in Karnataka, Singh said: “I am opposed to the government entering people’s bedrooms. And if women want to relax and have a drink, whose business and right is it to object?”  The 71-year-old leader’s book, taking a non-conventional view on Jinnah that completely contradicts the BJP’s position, also comes from his moderate thinking.     

During the communal violence in Gujarat in 2002, Singh was among the few BJP leaders who did not speak out publicly in support of Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

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