In his strongest attack on the Congress following the political firestorm over the death of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that “lies were being spread in the name of Dalits” and there appeared to be “an orchestrated campaign to instigate the Dalits, the oppressed, the exploited and the deprived” against the government. He also alleged that there was a campaign to “divide society, create rifts and break the country into pieces”.
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Addressing a public rally in Coimbatore, which virtually kicked off his party’s campaign in poll-bound Tamil Nadu, he said, “A canard is being spread that Modi is out to end reservation… I want to make it clear to those spreading lies in the name of reservation, those spreading rumours to try and put the government in the dock by misleading society, that as long as Babasaheb Ambedkar’s name is in the hearts of Indians, nobody can snatch his legacy or end reservation.”
Targeting the Congress, he said his government was pushing through pro-poor policies in Lok Sabha despite obstruction, but in the Rajya Sabha — where the ruling NDA is in minority — there was a “systematic attempt to block” all such initiatives.
He said the Congress was “unable to accept” the fact that the “son of a poor woman, a backward and a deprived” had taken over the reins of the country, and that is why they were targeting his government.
“It angers them that this government is reviving the legacy of Babasaheb Ambedkar, who had been forgotten and whose teachings had been suppressed. When this government announced the celebrations for his 125th birth anniversary, released coins in his name, they thought Modi was going to run Parliament in Babasaheb’s name. To stop the Dalits from rallying behind Modi, they began spreading lies,” he said.
Modi did not talk about state politics, possible alliance partners of the BJP or the Tamil fishermen issue, which Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has raised with him several times since he assumed office. Instead, he chose to focus on his government’s achievements, such as the improvement in the condition of sugarcane farmers, the Make in India initiative and the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.