Raising the communal temperature in riot-affected western Uttar Pradesh going to polls on Monday, Narendra Modi’s close aide Amit Shah has spoken of the current election being an opportunity to take “revenge for the insult” during the violence in Muzaffarnagar last year.
“In Uttar Pradesh, especially western UP, it is an election for honour. It is an election to take revenge for the insult. It is an election to teach a lesson to those who have committed injustice,” he told a meeting of community leaders two days ago.
The controversial BJP leader’s speech came under attack from political parties which accused him of vitiating the atmosphere in the region, which witnessed one of the worst communal riots between Jats and Muslims in September last year.
The Congress approached the Election Commission seeking action against Mr. Shah for “creating animosity between communities”. The party demanded the registration of criminal case against Mr. Shah and a complete ban on his further campaigning in Lok Sabha polls.
With Mr. Shah was BJP legislator Suresh Rana, an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots cases. On Friday, Mr. Shah met leaders of gujjars, rajputs and dalits as part of his campaign to rally their communities behind BJP.
“A man can live without food or sleep. He can live when he is thirsty and hungry but when he is insulted, he cannot live. The insult has to be avenged,” he had reportedly told them.
Congress, BSP, SP and JD (U) accused Mr. Modi of trying to inflame communal passions through Mr. Shah while himself wearing the “mask” of development.
BJP, however, saw nothing wrong in remarks by Mr. Shah.
“UP government has insulted the people there. It is not a question of Hindus and Muslims. Those who went there for secular tourism, they have insulted the people. Instead of putting balm on the wounds of the victims, they sprinkled salt. Revenge should be taken for this insult,” BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
In another meeting on Friday near Muzaffarnagar, Shah said, “We have been treated like second class citizens.
Justice has not been done. It is not the time for bullets.
“It was in the time of Mughals that swords and arrows were used for revenge, now you have to press the button.
Press the right button, and show those who have done this their right place.”
“People who have insulted our community, those who have killed our youth, can we feel honoured sitting with them,” Mr. Shah said.
The BJP leader said that once Modi government is formed at the centre, the Samajwadi government in UP will “also collapse”.
“If you vote for Modi, not only Modi government will be formed in Delhi but at the same time, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party government will collapse. One vote of yours can be used for two purposes,” he said.
The Samajwadi Party said that Mr. Shah’s remarks vindicated what it had always said that Mr. Modi and his aides “are fascists”.
“They cannot tolerate anyone else. To say that a democratically elected government will be dismissed shows they believers of fascism and these kind of people are never elected.
“BJP is frustrated as they will not get the kind of result they were expecting in Uttar Pradesh.... Let them dare to dismiss the SP government,” SP leader Ramgopal Yadav said.
Congress leader Satyavrat Chautvedi said that BJP, which had accused Congress of communalism over the meeting between Sonia Gandhi and Shahi Imam, should answer whether it considers Mr. Shah’s speech as “communal and provocative or one which promotes amity”.
Party candidate and spokesperson Raj Babbar accused both SP and BJP of trying to divide the people of Uttar Pradesh on communal lines.