Never spoken against minorities, but will not accept any ‘special citizens’: PM Modi

'I have not spoken a word against minorities. I am only talking against the vote bank politics of Congress.' Modi replied.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 20, 2024 | 11:47 AMUpdatedMay 20, 2024 | 11:47 AM

Modi speaking in Hyderabad.

By Vijay Joshi and Kumar Rakesh

About a month after the communally charged speech during the election rally in Banswara, Rajasthan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an interview with PTI said he has never uttered a word against minorities, and the BJP has “not just today but never” acted against them.

He, however, made it clear that he is not ready to accept anyone as “special citizens”.

Modi in his speech claimed that Congress, if voted to power would redistribute the wealth among “infiltrators” and “those who have more children”, referring to the Muslim community while quoting Dr Manmohan Singh out of context.

The comments in an interview with PTI Videos late on Sunday, 19 May, come amid an outcry from the opposition that his election speeches are communally divisive and polarising.

He also said the Congress has constantly violated the secular spirit of the Constitution, and that his campaign speeches are aimed at exposing the opposition parties’ bid to appease minorities with vote bank politics.

Also Read: ‘Muslims, illegal migrants, people with more kids’: PM Modi’s communal remarks 

‘Against Congress vote-bank politics’

In the interview, he was asked what he had to say about the apprehension among minorities because of his statements.

“I have not spoken a word against minorities. I am only talking against the vote-bank politics of Congress. Congress is working against the Constitution, that’s what I have been saying,” he replied.

Modi said the makers of India’s Constitution, including BR Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru, had decided there will be no reservations on the basis of religion. “Now you are turning away from that. It is my responsibility to expose them. At that time there were no members of my party in the Constituent Assembly. It was an assembly of eminent people from across the country.”

He was again asked if he has never meant to target the minorities in his election speeches, to which he said, “BJP has never been against minorities. Not just today but never.”

He then added that the Congress follows the path of appeasement. “I follow the path of satisfaction. (Woh log tushtikaran ke raastey pe chaltey hain, main santushtikaran ke raastey pe chalta hoon). Their politics is that of appeasement. My politics is that of ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’. We believe in ‘sarva dharma sambhav’, and want to take everyone along with us. We are not ready to accept anyone as special citizens but consider everyone equal,” the prime minister said.

On Congress manifesto

He was also asked if he really believes the Congress will actually give away the Hindus’ wealth to Muslims, or if it was just a campaign pitch.

“It is not the question of me thinking that way. To campaign without any logic is a sin. I have never committed such a sin nor will I want to. Such an illogical campaign has been done by them (opposition),” Modi said.

He acknowledged that the day the Congress manifesto came out he had said it had the imprint of the Muslim League. “Congress party should have rebutted me the same day and should have said ‘Modi ji this is not correct’.”

But because they remained silent “it seemed to me that I will have to gradually educate the people of India”, Modi said.

He claimed that the Congress manifesto promises reservations for minorities in awarding of tenders. “You want to make a bridge. Who will bid for the tender? Someone with resources, expertise, technology. But if you want to bring reservations there also, what will happen to my country’s development?” Modi asked.

Congress leaders have in turn accused Modi of twisting their manifesto’s phrases out of context.

On Muslim reservation

To make his point, Modi again referred to former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s remarks in 2006 at a National Development Council meeting that Muslims have the first right over the country’s resources.

However, addressing the 52nd Meeting of the National Development Council in 2006, former prime minister Singh had said, “I believe our collective priorities are clear: agriculture, irrigation and water resources, health, education, critical investment in rural infrastructure, and the essential public investment needs of general infrastructure, along with programmes for the upliftment of SC/STs, other backward classes, minorities and women and children. The component plans for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will need to be revitalized. We will have to devise innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly the Muslim minority, are empowered to share equitably in the fruits of development. They must have the first claim on resources. The Centre has a myriad other responsibilities whose demands will have to be fitted within the over-all resource availability.”

He also referred to a decision by the Congress government of Karnataka to bring all Muslims under OBC reservation category. “They committed a robbery on OBC quota,” Modi said.

“I believe that it is these people who have destroyed the spirit of secularism in our Constitution for their electoral politics. I want to restore that spirit of the Constitution. That’s why it is necessary to expose these people,” Modi said.

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Modi’s Rajasthan speech

PM Modi on 21 April suggested that if Congress comes to power, it would redistribute the wealth of the people to Muslims. Addressing a rally in Rajasthan’s Banswara, Modi alleged that the Congress plans to give people’s hard-earned money and valuables to “infiltrators” and “those who have more children”.

The prime minister elicited cheers at the rally with that phrase and another term he used to obliquely refer to the community: Illegal migrants.

“Should your hard-earned money be given to illegal migrants, infiltrators? Is that acceptable to you?” he asked, eliciting more response from the audience.

Modi claimed that Muslims being given the first claim to India’s wealth was in the Congress manifesto.

“They will take stock of the gold of our women and give it away,” he claimed, adding: “The ideology of these Urban Naxals will take away even your mangalsutras.”

Modi further wrongly claimed, that his preceding government under the UPA had said, “Muslims had the first claim to India’s resources.”

Also Read: Parts of Modi’s speech that violate MCC missing from English summary on PM’s website

(With PTI inputs)