‘Muslims, illegal migrants, people with more kids’: PM Modi’s communal remarks in Rajasthan rally

PM Modi’s remarks on Sunday were reminiscent of his “can be identified by their clothes” barb at anti-CAA protestors in 2019.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 21, 2024 | 9:52 PMUpdatedApr 21, 2024 | 9:52 PM

PM Modi's visit to Mysuru

In a speech that was reminiscent of his “can be identified by their clothes” barb at anti-CAA protestors in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi put Indian Muslims, illegal migrants and “people with more kids” in one box while addressing a rally in Rajasthan for Lok Sabha election 2024.

PM Narendra Modi on Sunday, 21 April, also claimed — erroneously — that his preceding government under the UPA had said “Muslims had the first claim to India’s resources”.

Modi was speaking at an election rally in Jalore in Rajasthan when he made this communal claim about his predecessor at the job, Dr Manmohan Singh.

The prime minister, however, did not pinpoint Singh by name when alluding to his speech from December 2006.

Also Read: The art of shaming a Hindu who refuses to be a majoritarian bully

Modi’s claims on Muslims and Manmohan Singh

Modi’s remarks on Sunday seemed like a dog whistle with communal undertones that was on-brand for BJP’s Hindutva narrative.

The revival of the majoritarian Hindutva narrative comes right after the first phase of voting for Lok Sabha elections 2024 concluded on Friday. Voter turnout for Friday’s polling was at least four percent less than the 2019 turnout for the same constituencies.

After claiming that the previous government had said “Muslims had the first claim to India’s resources,” he said it meant that the wealth would be distributed to “those with more children”.

The far right-wing ecosystem uses that epithet in a pejorative way to describe Muslims as a community whose population has increased when compared to population growth of other communities. Official data from government of India, however, contradicts this claim.

The prime minister elicited cheers at Sunday’s 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, intruders? 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.”

Also Read: Those who want to destroy ‘Shakti’ will get destroyed, says PM Modi

What Manmohan Singh actually said on nation’s resources

The speech Modi was referring to was Dr Manmohan Singh’s closing remarks at the National Development Council meeting on 9 December, 2006. The full text of the speech may be found HERE.

A day later, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) clarified that Singh’s observations had been “quoted out of context in some sections of the electronic media, fuelling a baseless controversy”.

It also provided the specific part of Singh’s remarks that appeared to have fuelled the controversy. That part read:

“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.”

The PMO noted in its statement of clarification: “It will be seen from the above that the prime minister’s reference to ‘first claim on resources’ refers to all the ‘priority’ areas listed above, including programmes for the upliftment of SCs, STs, OBCs, women and children, and minorities.”

It added: “It may also be noted that these observations of the prime minister were made after referring to the very good performance of the Indian economy in recent months, and the expectation that the economy would continue to do well, creating new income and employment opportunities for all sections of society.”

The PMO also said: “While better-off sections of society will benefit from this process, it is the responsibility of the government to pay special attention to the welfare of weaker and marginalised sections. The prime minister has said on several occasions that ‘India must shine, but shine for all’.”

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)