“Doing This For 10 Years”: Priyanka Gandhi On PM’s “Hindu Or Muslim” Note

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s “I never said Hindu or Muslim…” clarification, declaring, “This is exactly what he (Mr Modi) has been doing for 10 years. He cannot (now) start denying speeches he has given… he has given speeches in front of the whole world. How can he suddenly turn around and say he has not said those things?”

Mrs Gandhi Vadra – campaigning fiercely on behalf of Congress MP Rahul Gandhi in the party’s stronghold of Uttar Pradesh’s Raebareli – also accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been seen as making religious issues a poll platform, of practicing a “politics of religion”.

The sharp counterattack comes a day after Mr Modi said his speech last month in Rajasthan’s Banswara – in which he referred to Muslims and presented the Congress’ plans for an economic survey as a move to “redistribute wealth to infiltrators” – was about poor families and not religion.

In that speech the Prime Minister referred to comments by his predecessor, Dr Manmohan Singh, and said, “… when Congress was in power, they said Muslims have first right on country’s assets… your mangalsutra (and gold) will be distributed to those who have more children… to infiltrators”.

READ | Row After PM Says “Congress To Distribute Assets Among Infiltrators”

In earlier speeches the PM referred to the Congress’ manifesto as an “imprint of the Muslim League” and declaring “every page reeks of breaking India into pieces”, triggering a fresh and separate row.

The Congress filed complaints with the Election Commission on both counts; this was after the BJP filed one claiming Rahul Gandhi, had made “derisive and obnoxious utterances” against the PM.

However, on Tuesday, speaking to a news broadcaster, Mr Modi professed dismay over the reception to these and other remarks, saying, “I am shocked. Who told you that whenever one talks of people with more children, the inference is they are Muslims? Why are you so unjust towards Muslims?”

READ | “I Never Said Hindu Or Muslim, I Talked About…”: PM Modi

“This is the situation in poor families too. I didn’t mention either Hindu or Muslim…”

The Prime Minister – whose party boss, JP Nadda, was issued a show cause notice after widespread criticism of his comments in Rajasthan – also made a dramatic “pledge”, declaring, “The day I start doing Hindu-Muslims, I won’t be entitled to live in the public domain. I won’t do Hindu-Muslim…”

READ | On Complaints Against PM, Rahul Gandhi, Poll Body’s Notice To Parties

Last month, in a significant first, party bosses were held accountable for leaders’ violating the Model Code of Conduct during campaign speeches and events. The EC – criticised after seeming to delay acting on complaints against the Prime Minister and the BJP – said it was of the “considered view” that parties would have to take primary responsibility for the conduct of their candidates.

READ | PM Files Nomination From Varanasi, Then Big Show Of Strength

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister this week filed nomination papers to defend his Varanasi Lok Sabha seat. Mr Modi is looking to become a three-time MP from the UP temple town, which votes next week.

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