Raking up his backward caste identity for the second consecutive day at several rallies in Uttar Pradesh, where polls are due in 33 constituencies, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Tuesday accused Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra of caste bias and insulting lower castes.
Interpreting Ms. Vadra’s comment on Monday that the BJP leader was indulging in “low-level politics” as a reference to his lower caste origin, Mr. Modi said in Domariyaganj: “You can insult Modi as much as you like, you can hang him. But do not insult my fellow lower-caste Indians.”
Countering Mr. Modi’s heightened pitch for the backward and Dalit votes in the State, >where caste identity is crucial in voting, Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati challenged the BJP leader to disclose his caste and reveal what he had done for the welfare of these sections.
“If Narendra Modi actually belongs to a backward caste, why has he not revealed it till now?” Ms. Mayawati asked.
She said it was wrong to interpret Ms. Vadra’s statement as a reference to his caste.
While the BJP demanded an apology from Ms. Vadra, the Congress accused Mr. Modi of deliberately misinterpreting facts and called him a “spinmaster.”
On Monday, too, Mr. Modi had said the criticism against him by the Congress was a result of the party’s intolerance of a “backward caste leader.”
Continuing with the theme, he said on Tuesday: “Sometimes they ask how a tea-seller can run the country. They wonder how a person belonging to a ‘neeche jaati’ can get success in politics. I have sold tea, not the country.”