Maintaining that the country did not know his caste so far, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday thanked BSP chief Mayawati, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and the Congress for starting a discussion on it. Modi addressed rallies in Kannauj, Hardoi and Sitapur. The BJP had won the latter two seats in 2014.
Modi told the crowd that he comes from not just a backward community but in fact from an “ati-pichhda (most backward)” caste. Although he does not believe in the politics of caste, he said these opposition parties have dragged him into this debate by raising the issue of his caste.
The Congress, SP and BSP have only one aim, he said: “Jaat paat japna…janta ka maal apna (playing politics of caste, and pocket people’s money).” Calling the alliance leaders “maha milawati log (adulterated people)”, Modi said, “Meri jaati to itni chhoti hai ki gaaon mein ek-aadh ghar hi hota hai. Main toh pichhdhe nahi, ati-pichdhe mein paida hua hoon. Aap merey muh se bulwa rahi ho toh bol raha hoon. (My caste is so low that in a village there are only a few houses from that caste. I do not belong to just backward caste but was born into a most backward community. I am saying this because you are forcing me to).”
Mayawati reacted within hours. Addressing the media in Lucknow, she said, “He (Modi) said in Kannauj that his opponents think of him as neech (lowly) — that Akhilesh and Behen-ji (Mayawati) have called him neech…. This is a mischief. I never called him neech. Instead, with all respect, I said he belongs to an upper caste. Where does this calling him neech come from?”
Even then, she maintained, the BJP and Modi consider Dalits as “neech and small — the entire country knows that.” At his rally in Kannauj, Modi claimed that India is the biggest target of terrorists and that “factories of terrorism” operate in Pakistan even today. But the “awsarwadi (opportunist)” Opposition, he said, has accepted lies of Pakistan and is asking for evidence of surgical strike “only to defeat Modi”.
Alleging that the SP-BSP combine supports terrorists, Modi said, “Sirf aur sirf Modi ko harane ke liye Pakistan ke jhooth ko sach mante ho, Pakistan ka hero banne ka khwab paalte ho…surgical strike karne wale humare sainikon se saboot maangte ho. Mat bhuliye ki yeh wahi log hai jo Delhi ke Batla House mein atanki ke maare jane par aansu bahate hain (You accept Pakistan’s lies only to defeat Modi; you dream of becoming a hero for Pakistan, and seek proof of surgical strike from our soldiers. Do not forget that these are the same people who had cried at the death of terrorists in the Batla House encounter in Delhi.)”
He also said: “Bhoolna mat kaise Samajwadi Party ne Babasaheb Ambedkar ka apmaan kiya thha…. Yeh BSP ne bhula diya hai. Yaad kariye, BSP ne Babasaheb ke naam pe medical college ka naam rakha thha. Samajwadi sarkar ayi toh usne Babasaheb ke naam ki patti ko ukhar ke phenk diya taha (do not forget that the SP had shown disrespect to Ambedkar. The BSP has forgotten it, but do recall that the BSP had constructed a medical college and named it after Babasaheb. But after the SP government came in, it threw away his nameplate).”
Today, he added, “Behen-ji is happily seeking vote for that same SP — for power, for chair, and to defeat Modi. She is hugging those who had shown disrespect to Babasaheb.”
On Friday, addressing a joint rally with Akhilesh Yadav and RLD chief Ajit Singh in Orai area of Jalaun constituency, Mayawati had said, “When he (Modi) formed the government in Gujarat, he got his caste, which came under forward castes, included in the backward category…. He calls himself backward so he can get your votes…he is fake.”
The BSP chief’s riposte came a day after Modi had, on Thursday, accused opposition parties of “distributing caste certificates”.
– – With ENS, lucknow