December 22, 2019 5:51:03 pm
The Sangh parivar Sunday put up a numerically weak but vocally incendiary reply to the two major anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) rallies held in Nagpur.
With the participation of under 10,000 people — a figure provided by a senior police officer — the rally was addressed by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, among others, at the Samvidhan Chowk.
Gadkari said the CAA was a fulfilment of the mandate bequeathed by Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar. “It was Mahatma Gandhi who had said that Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists in Pakistan are welcome to India if they feel discriminated against there. And Babasaheb Ambedkar had said that Muslims have over 100 Islamic countries to go to, but these minorities have nowhere else to turn to except India. We are only doing that. So what’s wrong in that?” Gadkari asked.
Nagpur had witnessed huge peaceful turnouts against the CAA on Thursday and Friday, with participation by over 7,000 and 40,000 people respectively.
On Saturday, Lokadhikar Manch, a front comprising several RSS fronts, had claimed they expected 20,000 people to participate in Sunday’s rally. But despite Sunday being a holiday, the turnout was only half the number.
The rally, comprising members of RSS, Vishva Hindu Parishad, Muslim Rashtriya Manch and several other RSS bodies, along with some RSS-affiliated North-Eastern people fronts, started from Yashwant Stadium around 9 am and was joined by former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Slogans raised during the procession included “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaron saalon ko (shoot the traitors)” and “Jinko chahiye azadi, unko de do azadi (give freedom to those asking for it)”. The placards raised by participants read, “Afvahon pe dhyan na de, ghuspaithiyen active hain (don’t believe rumours, the infiltrators are active).”
In an uncharacteristically strong Hindutva-laden sppeech, Gadkari said, “Some political parties who have been humiliated in elections (band baajaa baj gayaa) are desperately trying to spread disinformation about the CAA for political gains. I would like to assure the Muslims that BJP doesn’t believe in discrimination and they have nothing to worry about.”
“When our Muslims go out of the country, they are seen as Hindus and are recognised as Hindustani. Hindutva is not a narrow-minded concept. In fact, ‘Hindtuva alone is nationalism (rashtriyatva)’ is our firm belief,” Gadkari said.
He cited examples of some “crorepati” (millionaire) Hindus, who had to run away from Pakistan to Rajasthan . “I had met them. They were in a miserable condition, with no water and toilets. I was in tears seeing their plight. So, I got them everything and also gave them Rs 5 lakh from my own pocket. Now, if we are planning to give such people citizenship, what’s wrong in that?” he asked.
Gadkari referred to the demolition of Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan and the destruction of Hindu temples in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and cited the “depletion of Hindu population” there as examples of discrimination against non-Muslims in those countries.
Gadkari, however, also referred to a waterways project he had built in Bangladesh on the request of the government there, saying, “I told them we share the same cultural heritage.”
Gadkari accused the Congress of giving a red-carpet to “foreigners”, helping them purchase property here and facilitating their entry into Parliament.
“We never said throw Muslims out. When we opened bank accounts under Jan Dhan scheme, did we say don’t give them to Muslims? Did we deprive Muslims of gas cylinders and houses under government schemes?” Gadkari asked.
Citing examples of musician Adnan Sami and actress Salma Agha — who he said was a converted Hindu from late Prithviraj Kaoor’s cousin’s family — Gadkari said, “We gave them citizenship. What did Congress give Muslims? A puncture-repair shop, a scrap shop and a tea stall?”
“Only we (BJP) can give you development,” Gadkari said.
Before leaving midway from the procession due to some urgent work, Fadnavis said, “The Act is in the country’s interest and not for discriminating against any community. Some political parties are deliberately spreading rumours and stoking a fire on the issue.”
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