Trading barbs with BJP rivals in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said he was amazed that Akhilesh Yadav was “afraid” of the donkeys of Gujarat and his contempt for them reflected the “casteist mentality” of the Chief Minister. Modi said as far he was concerned, he drew inspiration from the “loyal” and “hard working” donkeys.
The Prime Minister was responding to remarks made Monday by Akhilesh who referred to a Gujarat tourism department video promoting the Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch: “Gujarat ke log to Gujarat ke gadhon ka bhi prachar karwa rahe hain, aur hum pe aarop laga rahe hain ki humne kewal kabristan aur keval unke liye kaam kiya hai (People of Gujarat are publicising their donkeys but accuse me of working only for graveyards and them (minorities)).” Akhilesh, in turn, was responding to Modi who accused his party of discriminating between religions and said if a village gets a kabristan (graveyard), it should also get a shamshan (cremation ground).
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Addressing a poll rally in Bahraich Thursday, Modi said people make critical remarks against their opponents during elections and he too accepted such criticism. “Lekin main hairan hun Akhileshji… Modi par hamla karo samajh sakta hun, Bhajpa pe hamla karo samajh sakta hun, lekin bechare gadhe ke upar… aapko gadhe ka bhi dar lagne laga hai kya? Arre woh to saikdon kilometre dur hai… aap itna ghabrate kahe ho? (Akhileshji, I can understand if you attack Modi and BJP but I am amazed that you have attacked donkeys… are you scared of donkeys, that too of those thousands of kilometres away? Why are you so afraid?)”
“Aap ki jaativadi maansikta…oonch-neech ka bhao dekhne wali maansikta, yeh pashu mein bhi oonch va neech ka bhao dekhne lag gai… gadha aapko itna bura lag gaya kya? Bahut sawabhavik hai… aap ki sarkar itni efficient hai ki kisi ki bhains khho jaye to poori sarkar khojne ke liye lag jaati hai… yahi to aap ki sarkar ki pehchan hai. (I am amazed that your casteist mentality has a reflection on animals too… you found donkeys so bad… it is natural since your government is so efficient that the entire government goes in search of missing buffaloes. This is your government’s identity.)”
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The Prime Minister’s reference was to the buffaloes of SP minister Azam Khan which had gone missing in Rampur and police had to track them down.
He said Akhilesh was not aware that donkeys provide inspiration too. “Agar dil-dimag saaf ho to prerna le bhi sakte hain.” He said donkeys are loyal to their owner, complete his work even in illness and on empty stomach.
“Akhileshji, yeh 125 crore deshvasi mere malik hain… who mujhse jitna kaam lete hain main karta hun… bina chhutti liye karta hun. thak jaoon to bhi main our kaam karta hun. Kabhi bhukha rahun to bhi karta hun. Kyunki main gadhe se bhi prerna leta hun aur bade garv se leta hun taaki mere 125 crore deshvasiyon ke liye gadhe se bhi jyada majdoori karke unke liye kaam aaun. (Akhileshji, these 125 crore countrymen are my masters… I do all the work they ask me to do as I draw inspiration from donkeys and do it with full pride.)”
“Akhileshji, you might hate the donkeys of Gujarat but it was that very state which gave birth to Dayanand Saraswati, Mahatma Gandhi… and Lord Krishan chose to stay,” he said. “This feeling of hatred does not suit you.”
Taking a swipe at Rahul Gandhi and the SP-Congress alliance, Modi said: “You should know that whom you hug and with whom you are appealing for votes, when his UPA government was in power, that UPA government in 2013 had released a postage stamp on the donkeys of Gujarat. Now you will understand Akhileshji, how important that donkey is.”