With members and allies of the Sangh Parivar making a series of controversial statements targeting Muslims and resorting to hate-mongering, the BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi Tuesday said he disapproved of what he termed were “petty” and “irresponsible” remarks and urged supporters to restrain themselves.
Modi’s caution came a day after he shared the stage with Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam at a rally in Mumbai where Kadam called Muslims “deshdrohis” (traitors) and said they will be taught a lesson once Modi comes to power. It also came a day after the BJP sought to sidestep queries on VHP leader Pravin Togadia’s alleged hate speech attacking Muslims.
Modi, who had not called for such caution after his confidant Amit Shah was accused of stoking passions in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar, also rejected contentious comments by Giriraj Singh, the BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Nawada (Bihar), that those who do not vote for Modi will have to move to Pakistan.
Addressing the rally as Modi took his seat at the MMRDA Grounds in Bandra-Kurla Complex Monday evening, Kadam said: “Modi will destroy Pakistan within six months of coming to power.”
“Five lakh Muslims gathered at Azad Maidan. These Muslims attacked policemen, burned their vehicles, burnt the memorial of our martyrs. These Muslims are molesting our women policemen. In Shivaji’s Maharashtra, if some one is going to outrage the modesty of our mothers and sisters, then I am confident that Narendra Modi will find a permanent solution for these people,” Kadam, an MLC, said.
He was referring to a rally organised by Muslim groups on August 11, 2012, in Azad Maidan in South Mumbai and the violence that followed.
The present government was “tickling the beards of unpatriotic Muslims” in a bid to get votes from the community, Kadam said. He also said that with Modi coming to power, Pakistan would be destroyed in six months.
Kadam has since said that he did not want the destruction of Pakistan. “I only said that Pakistan will be taught a lesson and not destroyed,” he said. The Shiv Sena said these were Kadam’s personal views and did not echo the sentiments of the Thackeray family.
Modi took to Twitter to voice his disapproval of the controversial remarks but did not name those who made them.
“Petty statements by those claiming to be BJP’s well wishers are deviating the campaign from the issues of development & good governance” Modi tweeted. “I disapprove any such irresponsible statement & appeal to those making them to kindly refrain from doing so.”
“With great happiness, the entire nation is looking towards BJP for going to people solely on the issues of good governance & development,” Modi said.
Modi’s words of caution came as the Election Commission issued a notice to Togadia for his reported comments. Giriraj Singh has also drawn the ire of the EC for his comments.
“Nobody can agree with what he has said” Modi said referring to Singh during an interaction on the ‘Ghoshnapatra’ programme broadcast by ABP News Tuesday. Modi recalled that he had told voters that there was no reason to fear in Gujarat even if they had voted against him in the 2002 assembly elections.
“After winning the polls in 2002, I went to Maninagar in the evening to thank voters.I said in my speech that day, that this government belongs to those who have voted for it, against it and even to those who have not voted. The ‘mantra’ for my government is ‘Abhai (fearlessness), Abhai, Abhai’.I said it thrice,” Modi said on the TV show.
Modi’s remarks seemed to push BJP leaders to stress the party’s emphasis on its good governance and development plank.
“We have fought this election on issues of governance. We must carry every section of society with us. People expect us to govern and deliver. Today, the flood lights are on us. We will now be increasingly put under public scrutiny. Even an isolated irresponsible statement will bring discredit to us,” senior leader Arun Jaitley said in a signed statement posted on his website.
“Every sensible well-wisher of the BJP is expected to exercise utmost restraint and concentrate on issue of governance, which is the theme of our campaign. Any statement to the contrary will only help our rivals,” Jaitley added.
Jaitley’s post on his website Monday had not referred to the comments by Togadia and Singh even though they had already triggered a controversy.
Party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi too sought to underline the BJP’s emphasis on good governance Tuesday.
“The topmost leadership of BJP has clarified repeatedly and we are making a further clarification that BJP will focus on the agenda of good governance and development,” Lekhi told reporters after Modi’s tweets.