Launching the BJP’s poll campaign in Rajasthan, prime minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sharply criticised the Congress for what he described as the party’s ‘jatiwadi mansikta’ (caste mentality).
Modi’s criticism came two days after a video of Congress leader CP Joshi was circulated on social media in which he can be heard raising questions about the PM’s caste at an election rally in Nathdwara. Modi used this to attack the Congress several times during his 48-minute speech at Alwar’s Vijay Nagar ground on Sunday.
“Koi ma ko gali deta hai, koi meri jati ko lekar sawaal poochta hai… bolne wala koi bhi ho, bolwane wala to namdaar hi hai (Someone abuses my mother, someone questions my caste. I know whosoever may be saying it but he’s saying it at the behest of naamdar),” he said, adding that the Congress in Rajasthan had no vision for the state’s welfare.
Modi said that the Congress was resorting to “jatiwaad ka zeher (the poison of caste)” since they had nothing to compare their achievements to that of the BJP government.
In his response to CP Joshi, Modi quoted both Kabir and Saint Ravidas to drive home the point that humans were one despite their caste.
Quoting Kabir, he said, “Kabira kuan ek hai, pani bhare anek/ Bhaande hee mein bhed hai, pani sub mein ek (O Kabir, the well we all fill our vessels from is the same/ The jars are different, but the water from that one source is same).”
He also quoted Ravidas and said, “Jaat paat mat poochiye, ka jaat aru paat/Ravidas poot sab prabh ke, kou nahi jaat kujaat (Don’t ask anyone caste because everyone is a child of God and no caste is bad).”
Modi said when the prime minister of the country goes abroad, no one asks his caste. “Duniya ko to sawa sau karore Hindustani dikhte hain (People see 1.15 crore Indians),” he said.
The PM also dubbed the Congress as anti-Dalit and anti-backwards as he recounted the cases of Dalit atrocities in 2010 in Haryana’s Michipur village, in 2005 in Sonepat’s Sonaha and in 2000 in Karnataka, saying there were Congress governments in these states when these crimes occurred.
“Jab Mandal commission ki report par charcha ho rahi thi tab namdaar Rajiv Gandhi ne uske khilaaf jo zeher ugla tha, jo alochana ki thi, wo aaj bhi Parliament ki diwaro me goonj rahi hai (Rajiv Gandhi’s opposition and condemnation to reservation for the backward castes during a debate on the Mandal Commission report still reverberates in Parliament),” he said.
Modi said four members of one family got Bharat Ratna but Ambedkar did not get the country’s highest civilian award.
“Dalit, shoshit, gareeb, pidit aur kamzor ke prati nafrat ka bhaav Congress ki rago me bhara pada hai (Hatred for Dalits, the oppressed, the poor and the weak runs through Congress’ veins),” Modi said, adding that whenever anyone from these groups challenges the ‘naamdar’, they get annoyed.
Modi said the Congress had pulled out all stops to defeat Ambedkar in elections, and said that everyone knew what the party had done to Jagjivan Ram when he tried to challenge the family.
Talking about Congress in Rajasthan, Modi referred to a video of BD Kalla where he is seen stopping a man shouting Bharat Mata Ki Jai and telling him to say ‘Sonia Gandhi ki jai’, and said for the Congress, “Bharat Mata se koi aur mata badi hai (There is a mother bigger than Mother India for the Congress).”
Modi also talked about Congress spreading canards about its leader Nawal Kishore Sharma, who later became Governor of Gujarat when Modi was the CM. The PM took snipe at confusion in the party over the CM candidate and said it had “gali gali me mukhyamatri (a CM in every lane).
Praising the work done by Vasundhara Raje government in 5 years, Modi said Raje opened as many higher secondary schools and medical colleges in 5 years as Congress did in 50 years, and added that for the amount of development that happened in Raje’s rule, people would have had to wait for 50 years if there was a Congress government.
In his speech, Modi did not name Rahul Gandhi even once, and referred to his father Rajiv Gandhi and mother Sonia Gandhi only once. For the rest of his address, he kept calling them ‘naamdar’.
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