Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described as “unfortunate and unwarranted” the lynching of a man in Dadri over rumours of storing and eating beef and opposition to Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s concert. He was speaking to the Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika.
“The Dadri incident or the opposition to Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali are sad and undesirable. But what is the role of the central government in these incidents?” Modi told the daily in an echo of what a clutch of central ministers have been telling newspapers over the last few days.
“This controversy has arisen in the past too. The BJP has always opposed fake secularism (meki dhormoniropekkhota). Today, in the face of this sad social ailment (dukkhojonok shaamajik byadhi), this controversy has arisen again. This dispute can be resolved through consultations (Aalaap-alochonar madhyom-e ei bitorker niroshon shombhob),” he said.
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BJP’s official stand is that these are law and order issues in the remit of the state. The prime minister had during an election speech in Bihar some days back decried incidents of violence between Muslims and Hindus but this is the first time he has talked specifically about the Dadri lynching incident.
While his statement would widely be viewed as his finally succumbing to increasing pressure from opposition and academics – who have been on an award returning spree, from Sahitya Akademi to Padmashree – Modi has in his brief interaction with the largest circulated Bengali daily, hit right back at his opponents accusing them of polarisation.
“BJP does not support such incidents. By bringing them to the fore, the opposition it trying to accuse BJP of communal politics. But don’t these attempts show that they are the only ones practicing the politics of polarisation?”
He has said that such attempts are being made only by those parties who have always treated minorities like vote-banks and do not want these groups to see real development.
“Such controversies have happened in the past too. BJP has always opposed pseudo-secularism. Today when we are faced with such an unfortunate social malady the same debate has resurfaced. This can only be resolved through discussions.” Modi said.
But ally Shiv Sena, which opposed Ghulam Ali’s concert, raked up Modi’s past by referring to the 2002 Gujarat riots when he was the Chief Minister.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut told reporters in Mumbai: “The world knows Narendra Modi due to Godhra and Ahmedabad and we respect him for the same reason. If the same Narendra Modi has called the controversy surrounding Ghulam Ali and (former Pakistan minister) Khurshid Kasuri unfortunate, then it is indeed unfortunate for all of us.”
The Congress was quick to hit back at Modi. Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said: “Modi is suffering from selective amnesia. He has forgotten that he is prime minister of the entire country, the safety and protecting lives of 125 crore citizens of India is his responsibility.”
JD(U) president Sharad Yadav also criticised the Prime Minister saying while he is quick to speak on the victories of the cricket team, he was speaking on the Dadri incident after much delay.